Microsoft's Social Networking 'Leak' Could Hint at Company's Plans

Microsoft claims its socl.com launch was an accident. But the company has a lot of solid reasons to explore social networking beyond its relationship with Facebook.

Microsoft already owns a minority stake in Facebook. That's paid some dividends for Redmond, mostly in the form of new social-networking features for Bing and a new channel for its recently acquired Skype.

But investment in Facebook aside, will Microsoft consider building a social network of its very own?

That was an idea floating around the blogosphere over the weekend, after Microsoft posted what looked like a social-networking project -- code-named "Tulalip" -- onto the Web URL socl.com. "With Tulalip you can find what you need and Share what you know easier than ever," read the page s opening text, above a series of what looked like user-profile photos.

Microsoft promptly yanked the page, replacing it with a note suggesting the whole thing was an accident: "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."

Yep, honest.

Microsoft has some good reasons to explore social networking as a new project avenue. For starters, its archrival Google recently launched Google+, a social network meant to out-Facebook Facebook. Microsoft battles Google in a number of areas, particularly online search and mobile operating systems. It seems inevitable that, if Google were to move into the social networking realm, Microsoft would consider methods for blunting its competitor s ambitions.

This article was originally published on 07-19-2011
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