Back in July this year, Microsoft “accidentally” published a teaser of its social network project “Socl.com”. Now, it turns out that Microsoft has been testing the service with select users since then, and The Verge’s Thomas Houston got a sneak peak at the service, which they’re now calling Socl.
The Verge suggests that Socl is coming out of Microsoft’s FUSE research group, so it may or may not actually end up getting a public release. The Verge says that Microsoft is planning on rolling out an invite-only public beta soon.
The site sports a Metro design and is built using HTML5, and has a central feed, tags and feeds on the left, and invites and video chat on the right, bare bones navigation controls, and a heavy emphasis on search.
The big search bar at the top of the page lets you share ‘What are you searching for?’, like ‘Devin is looking for tea near downtown Seattle. What would you recommend?’, or ‘live Dylan covers,’ or what you’re doing, such as saying you’re ‘at a live Dylan concert.’ This will drop the appropriate Bing results into your feed, so your friends can see, share and comment on it.
The items can be tagged by type, and it’s a completely voluntary process, so you only share what you want (rest easy, you don’t have to share your, ah, ‘private’ searches).
There’s a video-sharing ability, by which you can watch videos “with” other people, though your interactions are limited to a chatroom beside the video.
Another cool feature that Socl brings to the table is “video party,” which lets you chat live with your friends via webcam and watch YouTube clips together.
A Microsoft spokesperson said:
“Microsoft’s FUSE Labs is an internal research group working on a number of forward-looking projects related to future possibilities around social search. Socl is one of the projects that we are exploring. We’ll let you know as soon as we have more to share.”