Microsoft slip hints at social search plans

An over-eager research team inside Microsoft appears to have tipped the company's plans for a social search service designed to take some of the shine away from Google+.

A writer for Fusible fat-fingered a domain while investigating the new owners of Social.com, and found a website owned by Microsoft being operated on the domain Socl.com. While only a teaser page, it hinted at a major social push for the software giant.

Socl.com's teaser page contained Facebook and Twitter sign-ins, and text which read: "With Tulalip you can Find what you need and Share what you know easier than ever." Windows Phone 7-looking icons showed purported users of the service, along with small details about social groups.

Little is known about Tulalip and Socl.com, but it certainly appears that Microsoft is looking to extend its Bing search service into the realm of social networking. Sadly for those who think such a service could come in handy, there's a catch: the site has disappeared.

Shortly after Fusible published its discovery, Microsoft pulled the plug on Socl.com. Visitors to the site are no longer treated to the splash page, with a terse message apologising for an apparent slip. "Thanks for stopping by," the page now reads. "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."

Microsoft is, at present, keeping quiet on whether the 'design project' was a mere demonstration of a new user interface look or the precursor to an actual product, but we do note one thing with interest: Microsoft may own Socl.com, but it doesn't appear to hold Tulalip.com.