Details of Microsoft's would-be Google+ - and, potentially, Facebook - killer Tulalip have leaked out ahead of the service's launch, under the new name of Socl.
Socl - what you get when you try to type 'social' while drunk - isn't yet an official Microsoft product, but screenshots of the service obtained by website The Verge suggest it's nearing completion. Once known as Tulalip and later renamed to Socl - as a domain registration slip by a Microsoft engineer revealed back in July - the service now comes with a visual overhaul to bring it more in line with Microsoft's beloved 'Metro UI' design guidelines.
The social networking site offers more than just a Windows Phone-like user experience, however: features revealed by the leak include a Bing-powered search bar at the top which allows users to share their search terms - totally optional, we're told - along with a clever, if somewhat restrictive, tagging system for categorising content.
As well as a push towards Bing - Microsoft's search effort which takes aim at advertising giant Google - the service includes additional features such as 'video party', a clear response to the 'hangouts' feature of Google+. Powered by HTML5 rather than a browser plug-in, the 'video party' allows people to join group YouTube-viewing sessions, adding videos to the queue as the 'party' progresses.
Sadly, there's still no word from Microsoft on precisely what Socl represents or when it might appear. Part of the company's FUSE Labs research group - also responsible for social gadgets that visualise Twitter data, Docs for Facebook, a kid-friendly programming language dubbed Kodu and 'living newspaper' CompanyCrowd - there's no word from the company as to whether it's intended for public release any time soon.
If it's an internal proof-of-concept creation, it's certainly thorough: since the original Tulalip design was leaked, the site has gone through a major overhaul with dozens of new features and an entire Metro-style user interface redesign. To put that much effort into a mere prototype seems unlikely.
Far more likely is that Microsoft is following Google's lead: as the company grew its search position, so Microsoft launched Bing; as Google+ starts to gain popularity among both consumer and commercial users, so Microsoft is - apparently - preparing Socl.