So, with its $1.2 billion acquisition of Yammer, Microsoft confirms its desire to become a player in “enterprise social.” My question is, since when was the company not all about enterprise collaboration?
Windows has been enterprises’ de facto collaboration platform for the last 20 years. It’s had hooks into instant messaging (Windows Messenger), messaging and collaboration (Outlook and SharePoint), and even cloud services (Windows Live services) for a long time. But maybe a lot of that “old” software now is starting to hold Microsoft back.
If you listen to the rhetoric from Redmond following the Yammer acquisition, you’d think none of those legacy platforms mattered. Yammer makes a difference because, as CEO Steve Ballmer points out, it “underscores our commitment to deliver technology that businesses need and people love.”
The company shelled out $8.5 billion for Skype just about a year ago. Besides being the leader in Internet video and phone calls, Skype has a great chat feature. Now, with Yammer, that makes three chat platforms in the Microsoft arsenal.
Maybe this is about making sure that the ready-to-be-released Windows 8 operating system and Surface tablets have the most recent collaboration software, without having to rejigger existing software or develop new applications.
But let’s understand one thing: Microsoft will have a place in enterprise collaboration for a long time to come, given its install base and the remnants of enterprise computing that will remain tethered to a desktop or laptop. However, it’s no longer the king of collaboration, with Apple, Google and Facebook, among others, having claimed huge numbers of users who have changed their ways of doing things forever.