Inside Microsoft's secret "Socl" network

You may remember the rumors that were going around earlier this year about Microsoft's upcoming social network, which was going by Tulalip at the time. It turns out that Microsoft has been testing the service with select users since then, and The Verge's Thomas Houston got a sneak peak at the service, which they're now calling Socl.

The site features a sparse Metro design with bare bones navigation controls, and a heavy emphasis on search. You'll find a prominent search bar at the top of the page, which works kind of like a status update. The search bar lets you share what you're searching for, like 'live Dylan covers,' or what you're doing, such as saying you're 'at a live Dylan concert.' This will drop the appropriate Bing results into your feed, so your friends can see, share and comment on it. The items can be tagged by type, and it's a completely voluntary process, so you only share what you want (rest easy, you don't have to share your, ah, 'private' searches).

It's been reported that the tagging system is a bit too specific, since most people aren't going to be searching for generic terms like 'film' or 'technology,' but considering that its in such an early stage of development, it's a problem that will hopefully disappear.

One really novel feature that Socl brings to the table is video party, which lets you chat live with your friends via webcam and watch YouTube clips together. Like the rest of the site, it's built completely out of HTML5, so it's fast and easy to use. It's possible that this could be built using the Skype infrastructure that Microsoft recently acquired, but since the whole project has been fairly quiet, there's no word on that.


 

Socl is coming out of Microsoft's FUSE research group, so it may or may not actually end up getting a public release. The Verge says that Microsoft is planning on rolling out a larger public test via an invite system in the near future.

Ultimately, Socl looks like another part of Microsoft's campaign to make search 'less lonely,' as they put it in a recent press release. The business plan is all about driving more traffic to Bing, and it's easy to imagine Socl functioning not only as a stand alone product, but as a way for you to share your search results through other services, like Facebook and Twitter.

Images courtesy of The Verge

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Wow, so wrong...

I can understand the comments here and the article here misleading people, but even a general news cycle search shows that almost every single report on SOCL is full of misinformation that isn't even close to accurate.

1) It is a test bed site.
2) It is a social aggregate site - like Live.com does now with facebook, LinkedIn, etc.
3) It is not to replace any social site - it is a place to search and collaborate across social sites
4) Live.com and WP7 already are doing what this R&D project is doing, with the integration API sets Microsoft designed for content exchange and searching.


This is NOT a new SOCL site to replace any existing social site, it is a portal that combines your social sites, as Live.com and WP7 already does. It just does it with more features using the integration APIs for search and linking between sites and friends. So your personal life and professional life have some cohesion.


Please get comments from Microsoft on this before spreading more crap.


Microsoft is not setting out to destroy Facebook or any other social networking site, they have already given up with MSN Groups years ago.

If you look at the Live.com development API sets and integration technologies that allow Facebook and several other services from hulu to twitter to integrate, you can better understand what the purpose of this test project is and why it is not a social network itself beyond the live.com/messenger social features that basically just link other social sites now anyway.

Wow...

If people even stopped to think for a second they would realize that Microsoft is not going after Facebook or Google+(like they need to, as Google's data auctioning will implode it anyway.)

Microsoft is heavily invested in Live.com technologies and also heavily invested in Facebook, with the Bing/Search/Skype technologies working with Facebook. They are also literally 'invested' in Facebook, having dumped a lot of investment money in them a few years ago when they gave up on MSN Groups and started killing them off.

Why would Microsoft create a service that would literally cost them money if it succeeds? They wouldn't, so they are not trying to replace Facebook.

Logic seems to absent in almost every writeup about SOCL.


thenetavenger said,
Wow, so wrong...

I can understand the comments here and the article here misleading people, but even a general news cycle search shows that almost every single report on SOCL is full of misinformation that isn't even close to accurate.

1) It is a test bed site.
2) It is a social aggregate site - like Live.com does now with facebook, LinkedIn, etc.
3) It is not to replace any social site - it is a place to search and collaborate across social sites
4) Live.com and WP7 already are doing what this R&D project is doing, with the integration API sets Microsoft designed for content exchange and searching.


This is NOT a new SOCL site to replace any existing social site, it is a portal that combines your social sites, as Live.com and WP7 already does. It just does it with more features using the integration APIs for search and linking between sites and friends. So your personal life and professional life have some cohesion.


Please get comments from Microsoft on this before spreading more crap.


Microsoft is not setting out to destroy Facebook or any other social networking site, they have already given up with MSN Groups years ago.

If you look at the Live.com development API sets and integration technologies that allow Facebook and several other services from hulu to twitter to integrate, you can better understand what the purpose of this test project is and why it is not a social network itself beyond the live.com/messenger social features that basically just link other social sites now anyway.

Wow...

If people even stopped to think for a second they would realize that Microsoft is not going after Facebook or Google+(like they need to, as Google's data auctioning will implode it anyway.)

Microsoft is heavily invested in Live.com technologies and also heavily invested in Facebook, with the Bing/Search/Skype technologies working with Facebook. They are also literally 'invested' in Facebook, having dumped a lot of investment money in them a few years ago when they gave up on MSN Groups and started killing them off.

Why would Microsoft create a service that would literally cost them money if it succeeds? They wouldn't, so they are not trying to replace Facebook.

Logic seems to absent in almost every writeup about SOCL.


And to add to your comment, given what we know about Windows 8 and how the tiles are going to be similar to Windows Phone, I think it is quite possible this may be the backend of a Metro app for Windows that aggregates all of your social networks into one app with a live tile.

I wonder how Microsoft's best bud, Facebook, is going to react to a direct competitor from its partner. The **** just hit the fan in that relationship lol.

It's a research project, chill out guys. There's a good chance that its features will be diluted into other Microsoft products or even directly into Facebook.

DrunkenBeard said,
It's a research project, chill out guys.

Even if, seems that theyre unconscious that theres already social network prefered by millions and creating another one just to fit with next OS release in look, design is just pointless. Seriously, they didnt learn anything? Social part of Windows Live is almost dead.

Every mockup, "prediction", concept that comes out Microsoft looks amazing, cool, prospective but then - i dont know, somehow some hardshell guys pop out and innovation ends, hard life begins and Microsoft prosthetic skills shows up.

Many years ago, I think end of '90s/early '00s I was invited in a MS "social project" were, if i remember correctly, you were represented like a "semi-arch" and all your friends were like "spheres" connected to you by lines. I cannot remember the name of the project but the design was so innovative and ahead of its time........ that it was abandoned. (-:
Does anybody remember the name of this research program?

Fritzly said,
Many years ago, I think end of '90s/early '00s I was invited in a MS "social project" were, if i remember correctly, you were represented like a "semi-arch" and all your friends were like "spheres" connected to you by lines. I cannot remember the name of the project but the design was so innovative and ahead of its time........ that it was abandoned. (-:
Does anybody remember the name of this research program?
I remember that! But like you I don't remember the name...

Odd - wont this damage their rather promising relationship with Facebook? Plus it will never take off, just like Google+

NO NO NO NO... why would MS ever want to compete with facebook? it's already integrated into wp7 and bing. Everybody loves facebook, they don't want some cheesy new "social" website, just look at google+. MS doesn't need to enter EVERY MARKET!

jasonon said,
NO NO NO NO... why would MS ever want to compete with facebook? it's already integrated into wp7 and bing. Everybody loves facebook, they don't want some cheesy new "social" website, just look at google+. MS doesn't need to enter EVERY MARKET!

It doesn't sound like its going to be a full featured social network, at least not yet. It could be if they did some more work, or they could integrate it with Bing and Facebook somehow.

Seems very little like Metro and more like a hybird of Amazon, Bing and Facebook Though outside of Kodu, I can't say that any of the FUSE lab's projects have been very interesting or useful...

ValTM said,
Really? More social networks?

This.

We have too much fragmentation...
It's like maintaining 3 or 4 email inboxes without having one client to bring it all together in a complete and coherent way.

Post redundancy FTL!

GS:mac

Glassed Silver said,

This.

We have too much fragmentation...
It's like maintaining 3 or 4 email inboxes without having one client to bring it all together in a complete and coherent way.

Post redundancy FTL!

GS:mac

too much fragmentation??

there is facebook... then nothing else is even close to it.. then G+ and Windows Live are pretty far down.. If you dislike fragmentation that much just use facebook for everything.. You can get an email address with it as well. The problem is people want options and so we have one more option

if this is anything it is probably the new social aspect of windows live which some people use still.. or this is just going to be a windows 8 app

Lachlan said,

too much fragmentation??

there is facebook... then nothing else is even close to it.. then G+ and Windows Live are pretty far down.. If you dislike fragmentation that much just use facebook for everything.. You can get an email address with it as well. The problem is people want options and so we have one more option

if this is anything it is probably the new social aspect of windows live which some people use still.. or this is just going to be a windows 8 app

People post exclusive to some networks...

Pfft... I don't care about the actual percentage in marketshare, I see how my friends post on more than just Twitter and Facebook...

Also there are local networks... ugh!

Really, that's what annoys me, nothing that I actually blame any of the competing companies for, just that sake decided to have so many rise into my personal relevance...

You might say "that's your problem", well yes it is.
I'm just pointing out a one for everything network would be the best experience, maybe not for the economical aspects and surely not in terms of innovation for that company, but it would stop this "need to check my 3584350984 networks" mess...

Don't get me wrong, I like competition (my email example was just to show how you don't want 23587623 inboxes, but just one to check all your convo or at least a combined local client), but with some things competition is a bit naggy.

GS:mac

ValTM said,
Really? More social networks?

Really No...

Socl is an aggregate technology, like Live.com does now with 3rd party API integration features. (Notice on Live.com that you can see your facebook stuff, linkedin stuff, etc? Or Windows Messenger also shows you facebook, etc.?)

This is an expansion of what live.com is already doing using the new API integration work Microsoft has developed that works on Live.com and WP7, etc...

It is a way to get access to several social site sources in one place, without ditching any of them.

So No....

billyea said,
Looks like facebook, but with "one really novel feature" with a high emphasis on search. In other words Google+.

Or the exact opposite of what you said...

"(...) so you're friends can see, share and comment on it."

My are friends can see? It's sad when people can't even write properly in their own language.

fsX said,
"(...) so you're friends can see, share and comment on it."

My are friends can see? It's sad when people can't even write properly in their own language.


It's sad when people can't see the "Report a problem with article" link.

xiphi said,

It's sad when people can't see the "Report a problem with article" link.

Don't be silly, what would the internet be if we just "Reported the problem"?