Microsoft May Be Getting Into Social Networking – Hint, Hint

Weeks after Google launched Google+, rumors have begun making the rounds that Microsoft is working on its own social networking platform.

The chatter started with an image posted on the Web. It appeared to depict a landing page for a service called “Tulalip.” A message on the page read “With Tulalip, you can find what you need and share what you know easier than ever.” It offered options to sign in through Facebook and Twitter.

The image appeared briefly on a site with the URL “Socl.com,” according to a report on Fusible.com. A Whois registry search and a DNS lookup for Socl.com indicate Microsoft owns the URL.

The image has since disappeared. Later, the Socl.com website displayed only a message stating that Socl.com is an internal design project from a team in Microsoft Research which was mistakenly published to the Web. “We didn’t mean to, honest,” the message reads.

Microsoft spokesperson Jackie Lawrence echoed that statement in response to a request for comment.

Microsoft and Socl.com

Microsoft purchased the Socl.com domain name from Marksmen, which bills itself as a protector of intellectual property, Fusible reported.

That purchase was made sometime after June 21, when Marksmen had sold the social.com domain name, Fusible stated.

This would theoretically have given Microsoft three weeks at the most to get a research project going and put it up on the Socl.com website.

Disbelief Is a Healthy Thing

“This is such a vague rumor, I think it’s hilarious that people are jumping on it,” said Andrew Eisner, director of community and content at Retrevo. “People are jumping on it and they’re already bashing Microsoft, saying it’s no Google+ killer.”

Google+ is a new social networking service launched by Google June 28.

It’s unlikely that Microsoft could have put together a project such as it claims Socl.com is within three weeks, Eisner said.

“They can’t even get copy and paste into Windows Phone 7 and you think they’ll crate a world-class social media site within two or three weeks? Not going to happen,” Eisner stated.

“It makes more sense to integrate Bing into social media environments,” Eisner remarked.

Bing, Social Media and Microsoft

Microsoft’s Bing search engine already offers social search capabilities through a tie-in with Facebook that was put into place in 2010. That lets searchers see their Facebook friends’ “likes.”

In June, Microsoft updated Bing for Mobile, offering integration with Facebook on this mobile version of its search engine as well.

Facebook and Microsoft have been partnering for years.

Microsoft’s plans for social search go back to 2006, when it unveiled plans to include a question-and-answer social search tool, according to Businessweek.

That emphasis on social search was part of a broader revamp of MSN, and Microsoft was also reported to be planning to purchase Eurekster.com, a company specializing in social network search.

That raises the question: Was the exposure of Tulalip on Socl.com really an accident, as Microsoft claims, or is it really part of a wily marketing campaign to stir up interest in Microsoft’s offerings and take some of the attention away from Google+?

Microsoft isn’t telling.

“We have no more information at this time,” Microsoft Lawrence told TechNewsWorld.

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