Arik Hesseldahl

Recent Posts by Arik Hesseldahl

Microsoft Talks About Its Plans for Yammer: Socialize Everything

When it acquired Yammer over the summer for $1.2 billion, Microsoft essentially admitted that it had lost any edge it might have once had in the social enterprise and collaboration software space. SharePoint has long been the hated, entrenched collaboration platform that, along with Microsoft’s Exchange and Office, so many upstart enterprise cloud companies like Jive have sought to beat up on, mainly because it was so big: Microsoft today disclosed that SharePoint is a $2 billion business.

Now Yammer is not only part of SharePoint, but a part of all the company’s mainstream business apps. At a SharePoint-oriented conference in Las Vegas, Microsoft announced today that the kind of social features that Yammer provides — and which SharePoint was widely criticized for not having, or at least for not having executed well — are now just part of every business application. For openers, Yammer has been integrated into Office 365 Enterprise and with SharePoint Online.

Also gone from Yammer is the four-tiered pricing model that at once made it so successful and yet ultimately was said to have doomed its long-term viability as a business. Yammer had picked up a lot of its momentum by being free for companies to use indefinitely, but it was supposedly a lot more powerful if you got one of the paid versions. The problem was that the free version was usually good enough, and few cared enough to try the paid version. The result: Converting free customers to paid customers was pretty tough.

Microsoft has sought to fix that by cutting the number of versions to two — one free, called Yammer Basic, that will be the simple, standalone version. On the other, Yammer Enterprise, Microsoft has slashed the price from $15 a user to $3 a user.

It’s all part of a broader “social everywhere” strategy that will in time see social features crop up everywhere you see a Microsoft logo: Office, Outlook, Skype. Everything that happens at the office that involves another person becomes an event that shows up in the social feed.

As Microsoft corporate VP Jeff Teper was quoted in the big announcement today: “We envision a world in which social is woven into the apps you use every day — where people work together using new experiences that combine the power of social with collaboration, email and unified communications.”

If you’ve got a few hours, you can watch the action in today’s keynote here.


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