Is Microsoft Working on a New Social Site?

A leaked site shows Microsoft is working on some sort of new Internet project

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First Google, now Microsoft? Just a day after Google announced the success of its new social site Google+, which has reached 10 million users, Microsoft leaked what looks like a new social search project, which they've dubbed Tulalip -- The name could use work. The details were found on another site, and were quickly replaced with the following message: "Thanks for stopping by. is an internal design project from a team in Microsoft Research which was mistakenly published to the web. We didn't mean to, honest," reports Mashable.

While Microsoft gives a vague notion of the site, calling it an "internal design project," Gizmodo's Kat Hannaford questions this: "Internal design project, or new social-networking site?" It looks like it has social components, given the  tagline (see the screengrab above), but it's unlikely a competitor to Facebook and Google+, as Hannaford admits. "Given the one image that was on shows log-ins for both Facebook and Twitter, I'm hazarding a guess that it's not designed to take on either service."

Some techies have some guesses on what new Internet social tool you might be forced to join in the near future.

It's something smaller than a whole new network.

The Bing/Facebook relationship as well as the Twitter/Facebook buttons indicate that we aren't seeing a straight up social networking behemoth, which Ars Technica's Peter Bright sees as an indication that this is not the new Facebook: "Redmond has invested in and partnered with Facebook, integrating support for Facebook's services into things like Bing and Windows Live Messenger." Instead it's likely that the new site is filling a niche, Bright continues. "This makes it likely that is some narrower take on social networking rather than some precursor to a full-blown social network."

Just a Bing add-on?

Microsoft already has a strong competitor to Google: Bing. Tulalip might be a more social search, at least that's what Hannaford bets. "As the words "find" and "share" were captalized in the sentence," he writes, "I can presume it's a more social way of searching, and perhaps something we can see integrated with Bing?" Google has yet to integrate Google+ into its search function, so Microsoft could try to get there first, Geekosystem surmises. "It's also worth noting that Google+ is not fully integrated into Google’s web search, suggesting that Microsoft might be eyeing that as a niche that needs filling."

Yet the Bing search engine already integrates its sharing with Facebook, as Ars Technica's Peter Bright points out. But perhaps Tulalip takes it at step further, he continues: "One possibility engendered by the mention of searching and sharing is an expansion of the existing Bing Facebook integration... may be taking this further, for example to allow easier sharing of search results, or deeper search integration into Facebook and Twitter's data."

It could really be a new social networking site.

Say Microsoft wanted to get into social networking. It wouldn't be too tough. They already have the social part, they just need the network. Ars Technica explains, "With Windows Live Messenger and Hotmail, it already has a large network of interconnected accounts and friendship relationships. Windows Live's profile pages are not a million miles away from the kind of thing seen on Facebook or Google+, and status updates and sharing are already available." They'd only have to connect the dots, and voila: another Internet time-suck.

This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.