So what’s this OfficeTalk?

At a meeting today it was revealed that not all my colleagues had yet heard of OfficeTalk. Since they’re probably not the only ones, here’s a short summary.

image OfficeTalk is a research project by Microsoft’s Office Labs, a group that researches things in the information worker domain.

Very, very little has been said about OfficeTalk, but it seems like a hybrid between Twitter and Yammer. In essence, enterprise microblogging/chat with private channels for intra-company discussion. It’s more like Yammer in look and feel, but it does have the twitterish 140 character limit. But it also has more than a passing resemblance at Office Communications Server Group Chat.

OfficeTalk is being heavily tested inside Microsoft, and some other interested companies as well. But who cares, as the problem has already been solved by others?

One possible factor would be greater integration with Active Directory, SharePoint and Outlook. This would provide some differentiation from Yammer and others, but would still leave OfficeTalk pretty closely tied with OCS. Then again, it might be the easier alternative in terms of getting it up and running, perhaps making this sort of collaboration possible for those without OCS.

When will it be available as a shipping product? It might never. But given all the social media hoopla around Office 2010, a beta in few months wouldn’t surprise me – how about WPC? And I’m guessing it will run on SharePoint, both on-premises and in the cloud.

If you’re unconvinced about the whole enterprise microblogging idea, read this three-part blog post on one company’s experiences. It doesn’t justify all the magnificent intra-twitter visions, but it does provide some good thinking context.

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March 24, 2010 · Jouni Heikniemi · 11 Comments
Tags: ,  · Posted in: Information Worker

11 Responses

  1. Jouni Heikniemi - March 24, 2010

    During the time I wrote this post, the first public glimpses of OCS 14 were just posted elsewhere on the net (an eerie coincidence).

    Now, without needing to bust my NDA, I can refer to Mary Jo at and point out that the Office Communicator client will also contain social media features. Making this OfficeTalk sidekick all the more strange…

  2. Sami Poimala - March 25, 2010

    I think those sidekicks are not that strange, and wouldn't be surprised even if some more came into view.

    First, Microsoft is a company of size that many projects get started without knowing about each other.

    Second, actually it's a good lean principle to launch multiple different options and let the strongest survive.

    Third, give me one new product that doesn't contain social media features…

    And finally, there may be demand for both of those products. I'm not sure how well Office communicator client works – if at all – without OCS, but maybe OfficeTalk is lighter version that doesn't require OCS, which isn't that easy and cheap option for everyone.

  3. Heikniemi Hardcoded » Avanade collaboration study, and what can we learn from it? - June 24, 2010

    [...] The second ones are the small ones who empower smaller units within a corporation by providing a solution that actually turns out to be effective, becoming a phenomenon within the company (see an example of enterprise micro-blogging spread, from my previous OfficeTalk post). [...]

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