Microsoft’s OfficeTalk Microblogging Application to Compete with Twitter, Yammer & Google Buzz

March 25, 2010, By Desi Mikkel

It seems Microsoft has decided to jump on the microblogging bandwagon. OfficeTalk, Microsoft’s latest attempt at being more social, aims to be the enterprise microblogging platform for businesses.

The goal of OfficeTalk is to improve internal communication, enabling employees throughout a company to communicate and collaborate with each other in short posts. These posts are retainable, searchable and viewable by anyone who is a feed subscriber or follower, so they can be used for reference purposes.

If this sounds a bit familiar, it might be because the new microblogging solution by Microsoft Office Labs, has many services similar to, if not identical to, it’s competitors. Much like Twitter, OfficeTalk gives microbloggers a 140 character limit and like Yammer, it offers enterprise solutions.

Other similarities between OfficeTalk and it’s competitors are it’s inclusion of profiles, a follow option, search function, threaded conversations and support of a hash tag keyword search function. Popular features that seem to have become the standard microblogging package.

Even though there doesn’t seem to be a whole lot of difference between OfficeTalk and a Twitter x Yammer love child, unlike both, Office Talk is not intended to be a cloud based application. It will live on-premise, in your company server and will be company owned and managed.

This is not a ‘feature’ for all, but it has some advantages for the privacy and security concerned. Though it has yet to be confirmed, Microsoft is expected to provide its set of system management server tools (SMS) for OfficeTalk’s network administrators.

It is also suspected that Microsoft might try to bundle OfficeTalk with SharePoint 2010 (a browser-based social content and document management system) and/or Outlook Social Connector (which is part of MS Office 2010) instead of offering it as a stand alone application package.

If it’s offered as a stand alone application, Microsoft may at the very least, offer integration between OfficeTalk and other Microsoft products.

So far, according to Microsoft, the future of OfficeTalk looks good.

The Microsoft blog has reported that though unreleased, OfficeTalk has garnered lots of attention from blog readers and is among the most popular of Microsoft’s unreleased solutions.

While all this sounds good for OfficeTalk, one has to consider the source, although popular with Microsoft employees (who have been testing the product internally for months) and MS blog readers, there is still no way to tell how OfficeTalk will fair once it has been released into the microblogging marketplace.

For now, OfficeTalk is limited to a private trial pilot to a small group of customers, for research purposes. It still lacks a strong identity and will need to find a way to stand out from the crowd if it really wants to compete with microblogging veterans and popular microblogging platforms.

OfficeTalk will have to do battle in the microblogging arena to truly define itself and prove it’s worth, it will offer yet another option for companies and business minded microbloggers to choose from.

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