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July 15, 2011

SOCL.com - Is Microsoft Working on a "Facebook Lite"?

by Don Rose

Tech News Today (http://live.twit.tv) reported that a certain domain name - socl.com - was generating much buzz, as it apparently belonged to Microsoft and (accidentally?) revealed the existence of a new social network/service/thing called Tulalip.

Upon visiting www.socl.com at 854pm today, there was nothing on that site except for the following message:

Thanks for stopping by. 

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.

So, fellow webheads, what do you think? Was it a leak meant to generate word of mouth? Or a bona fide "oops" moment?

I am leaning towards the latter.

And what do you think Microsoft Research is up to? Since Microsoft already owns a percentage of Facebook, and is partnering in several ways, it seems doubtful they would be trying to compete and create an alternative to Facebook. One idea: perhaps Microsoft wants to create a streamlined or lite version of Facebook that makes it easier to use, with less distractions for newbies and business folk (like all those game requests you don't want, from people you don't know that well). I like that Facebook offers lots of options and things to do, but a simpler version would appeal to a wide audience, especially on a mobile device. (So maybe Tulalip is a code name for a Windows Phone frontend for Facebook?)

Oh, and in case you were wondering (as I was) what Tulalip means, here is what I found (via Wikipedia):

Tulalip is a group of Native American peoples from western Washington state in the United States. Today they are federally recognized as the Tulalip Tribes of the Tulalip Reservation..  More »