OfficeTalk has been to Microsoft what Chatter is to Salesforce since early 2010, but on an internal level only. Recent rumors suggest Microsoft is about to change up the game, however, and officially layer the microblogging platform into the company's slew of products and services.
At launch, the Office Labs team claimed OfficeTalk was merely a “research project” with no clear path to commercialization planned out, yet by August the team was running pilots of the platform inside Microsoft and with a few select customers.
If you think that's a lot of action for a research project, join the club. Accordingly, Microsoft program manager Quinn Hawkins shed light on OfficeTalk developments in a recent interview with Steve Clayton:
OfficeTalk is a good example of something that started as a project in The Garage, became a funded incubation, and now is being considered by the product teams. It was originally an idea that two Program Managers had, but neither of them were coders. That didn’t matter, though. They were super-excited about the idea so they fleshed out the design a bit and ended up getting a few friends to spend a couple weekends building it. As word spread, they got more help and pretty soon the project had 8-10 people contributing to it.
We imagine the product teams will implement OfficeTalk in the same way all the cool kids are doing it these days (in a Facebook/Twitter-like manner), but whether or not their audience accepts it remains to be seen. After all, on one hand we have companies like Salesforce.com and Yammer, which have both seen great success with their collaboration products. On the other: one failed social attempt after another by Google.
Which path do you think Microsoft should take? Can you see a social layer of this design working in the company's benefit? Whether they'll tap into this market at all remains to be seen (and they're holding off on making additional comments), so let us know what you think the best move from here below.