Wednesday brought reports that Microsoft purchased the socl.com domain name based on a WHOIS record that revealed the Redmond company as the proud new owner. Then just one day later, Microsoft "accidentally" launched a teaser landing page revealing an upcoming "social search" service called "Tulalip." The site was quickly removed and replaced with a message reading thanks for stopping by, but not before news of the site began to spread like wildfire.
"Socl.com is an internet design project from a team in Microsoft Research which was mistakenly published on the web," the message current reads. "We didn't mean to, honest."
Yes, the message uses the word honest.
At this point, there's only speculation as to what the site will provide. Before it was pulled, the welcome splash page (seen above) featured both Facebook and Twitter login buttons, an option for the site to save a login cookie, and a check box for agreeing to its Terms of Service.
"With Tulalip you can Find what you need and Share what you know easier than ever," a message promised just above a set of Windows Phone 7-like tiles framing various people. The website URL itself is a play on the word "social" and follows the same four-letter format used with Microsoft's search engine Bing.
Fusable notes that "Tulalip" is the name of a group of Native American tribes located not far from Redmond, Washington, where Microsoft is headquartered, but there's a good chance the service may eventually be renamed as Socl (that's a guess based on the URL). But as to when the service will launch is still a mystery. Microsoft is sticking to its explanation that Tulalip is merely an internal project.
"Socl.com is an internal design project from one of Microsoft’s research teams which was mistakenly published to the web," a representative said in a statement.
Before the site was removed, further investigation into the Twitter aspect showed that the Tulalip site could (1) read tweets from your timeline (2) see who you follow, and follow new people (3) update your profile (4) post tweets for you. The Facebook aspect wasn't working at the time of testing, nevertheless Tulalip/Socl sounds like a possible web-based social client like Tweetdeck rather than a full-fledged social hangout. It may even incorporate Skype.
Still, it doesn't seem coincidental that Microsoft "leaked" its social project just after Google goes live with Google+. As Microsoft indicated, it's nothing official so everything at this point is pure speculation. Of course, Google+ was mere rumor and speculation until its launch just two weeks ago. That said, there's no question that Microsoft leaked the site on purpose just to give us something to write about and to get social bugs all fired up. Looks like it worked.