It's true, Microsoft (Nasdaq: MSFT ) is building its own social network. As if Facebook, Google+, Twitter, and the distant MySpace weren't enough, Microsoft Socl is also on its way.
Over the summer, a teaser page was accidentally posted on socl.com, which has since been removed. It was previously confusingly named 'Tulalip,' but thankfully it seems that Microsoft has ditched that bungling moniker. Interestingly, it may feature Facebook and Twitter sign-ins, which makes it more of a complement that a substitute. Well, some new details have now emerged from The Verge, which was granted an exclusive sneak peek at the project.
Source: The Verge.
The interface is eerily recognizable, right down to the blue color scheme. Similarly, it also uses a three-column format, with the left portion for basic navigation and favorites and the center section as the primary social data feed.
Instead of implementing a traditional search box that's specific to the site and a separate status update function, Socl is bravely attempting to combine the two. Entering a query into the new field will run it through Bing and post the results as a status update, allowing your friends to interact with it in all the familiar ways such as comments, likes, and tags.
You'll be able to turn off the hybrid feature and stick with old-school status updates if you prefer. After all, you don't want all of your friends to know about your most embarrassing celebrity gossip-related search queries, like "How much did Kim Kardashian make on her phony wedding?"
Social search is the next big thing in search, since most people are likely to place higher value on their friends' input on topics. It looks like Microsoft is taking Foolish analyst extraordinaire Tim Beyers' advice to heart.
Google (Nasdaq: GOOG ) and Yahoo! (Nasdaq: YHOO ) have been working on it for years. Combining social search into status updates is an interesting twist that might just work. Facebook's search includes Bing powers, but it's still more of a separate function built into the box than a combined offering. Google+ has the potential to do it right, but that depends heavily on the success of Google+.
Socl also has a Video Party feature to chat and watch viral videos together, and appears similar to Google+ Hangouts.
Linking the potential service to Facebook is smart, since that way it can piggyback off Facebook's network effects instead of having to start from scratch. It's still in private testing, so there's still a chance it will never see the light of day. Microsoft is supposedly getting set to roll it out to the public via an invite system, but until we get any official word, we'll just have to let our imaginations wander.
- Add Microsoft to your Watchlist to see if Socl ever makes it to the public.