Is Microsoft Launching a Rival to Google+?

Posted on August 2, 2011 · Posted in Bing, Google

Microsoft’s PR department has been working overtime thanks to the recent discovery of a “social search” project discovered on a Microsoft-owned domain. The new search engine, titled “Tulalip” on the teaser landing pages, was discovered shortly after the launch of Google’s new social network, Google+.

Though Microsoft claims the leaked site is nothing more than an “internal design project,” media sources all over the Web are asking one question: is Microsoft launching a rival to Google+?

Microsoft Turns Out to Be Mystery Owner of “Socl.com” Domain

microsoft-plus-one

While researching the recent sale of the domain name “Social.com,” a Fusible.com reporter made another discovery: “socl.com” was also sold on behalf of an unknown client. That unknown client? None other than Microsoft.

Later, reporters discovered a teaser landing page on Socl.com. The landing page read, “Welcome! With Tulalip you can Find what you need and Share what you know easier than ever” (prior capitalization left intact). The site appeared to be a social media addition to Microsoft’s search engine, Bing. The landing page offered log-in buttons for both Twitter and Facebook.

The landing page also held a variety of non-working links that included a link to a “See how it works” demo as well as the project’s terms and conditions. The Twitter sign-in link did function and revealed that if authorized, the Tulalip app would be able to:

  • See the tweets on a user’s timeline,
  • Post tweets,
  • Update the user’s profile,
  • See the user’s followers and
  • Follow new people.

Microsoft’s Response

The Tulalip landing page was ripped from the web shortly thereafter. A message on Socl.com now reads:

Thanks for stopping by.

Socl.com is an internal design project from a team in Microsoft Research which was mistakenly pulished to the web.

We didn’t mean to, honest.

The Punches Kept Coming

Just north of Microsoft headquarters, there’s a Native American reservation with a familiar name: the Tulalip tribes. Upon hearing the news of Microsoft’s impending search engine of the same name, the tribes wasn’t exactly flattered. The Tulalip name is a trademark of the tribe, which operates a successful casino under the trademark. “We just don’t want anyone using it in a bad way. It’s our name,” a tribe member told a local news station. Microsoft met with the tribe to explain that the name was strictly intended to be an internal code name and would not be used publicly.

What’s the Future for Socl.com?

Most agree that it doesn’t look like Microsoft is crafting an entire new social network, especially given Microsoft and Facebook’s partnership. Instead, the Tulalip project will probably be more of a social-infused search. Some sources are predicting that Microsoft is trying to beat Google to the social search game since G+ hasn’t been combined with standard Google searches yet.

So what could be the future for Socl.com? Would all Bing + Socl searches include your friends, families, and colleagues’ interests? For example, if a freelancer “likes” a copywriting blog or a content writing services company on Facebook, would that freelancer’s Twitter followers see those results first in a Bing search for “writing?” If your niece tweeted a link to an upcoming photography exhibit, would that exhibit be highlighted in a local “things to do” search?

New network? Bing supplement? Mere “internal design project?” Whatever the Tulalip project may be, it’s clear that the Bing vs. Google battle is far from over.

Image Source: Ronada via Flickr