Microsoft is looking to tackle competition from Facebook and IBM by bringing its Yammer enterprise social networking tool to all eligible Office 365 customers.
Kirk Koenigsbauer, corporate vice president of the Office team, explained that the move will give new and existing Office 365 customers the ability to use Yammer without requiring an input from IT administrators.
“Every Office 365 user with a Yammer licence will be able to easily access Yammer from the Office 365 app launcher or start a Yammer conversation from SharePoint, Office 365 Video Portal and, coming soon, Delve and Skype Broadcast,” he wrote on the Office blog.
“This enables you and your co-workers to share ideas and work together in the open using Yammer’s flexible workspaces.”
Koenigsbauer explained that the move is part of Microsoft’s efforts to lay down managed data centre Azure Active Directory foundations that support the rollout of Yammer into the cloud version of Office.
Making Yammer easily available to Office 365 users in the enterprise could be seen as an attempt to counter rival business-oriented internal social networking tools such as Facebook at Work and IBM Connections.
It is also indicative of a growing appetite among businesses to use internal social networks to better work together without relying on email.
Yammer will be rolled out to existing Office 365 subscribers in three waves over the next few weeks.
It will start with customers that have a business subscription and fewer than 150 licences, moving on to those with fewer than 5,000 licences in March, and then all customers in April, including those with an education subscription.
Adding Yammer to Office 365 is essentially another step in this strategy to streamline how people work between Microsoft’s productivity tools and related third-party offerings.
An example of this is how conversations in Yammer can be escalated into a Skype call or used to schedule a meeting in Outlook.
Microsoft is also keen to boost integration of Office services with cloud tools from other companies, as seen with Office Online partnerships with Box, Dropbox and Egnyte.
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