It's been four years in the making, but Microsoft seems to have finally decided where Yammer fits in the Microsoft environment.

The enterprise social network has languished within the Redmond-Wash.-based software giant since its 2012 acquisition, raising repeated questions of what exactly the company planned to do with it.   

Yammer Tied With Office

Today Microsoft took a major step forward by tying Yammer and Office together, enabling users to create, edit and co-author Office documents in Yammer then share them across the network.

While Yammer already included some basic Office functionality, this integration is a sign of progress and follows on the heels of the announcement at last week's Ignite conference that Yammer will also be integrated with Office 365 Groups over the coming months.

The Groups integration gives users access to SharePoint sites and document repositories, a shared OneNote notebook, and task management with Planner.

So it seems as if Yammer is finally becoming the social network across the Office 365 suite that Microsoft always said it would.

Today's announcements touched on more than Office, also related to SharePoint and OneDrive.

To help teams use SharePoint and OneDrive for file storage and management, Microsoft has also made it much easier to share and discuss these files with teams on Yammer.

Collaborating With Yammer

Taken together, the announcement effectively gives Yammer SharePoint content management capabilities, Office’s document creation and editing capabilities, and Yammer’s collaboration capabilities all from the same place.

The blog post announcing the deepened integrations discussed the changes in the broader context of Yammer growth, “This focus on enabling employees to get work done through deeper integration into the Office 365 suite has led to the fastest annual user growth in Yammer’s history.”

The ultimate goal is to make Yammer an integral part of Office 365, which means that the Yammer Enterprise offering will be phased out and as of January next year, will no longer exist as a standalone offering.

In a recent interview with CMSWire Group Product Marketing Manager at Microsoft, Jon Orton explained:

"Yammer is a critical component of Office 365's collaboration strategy. We've been doing a lot of work over the past few years to integrate it deeply on the backend to meet security compliance and trust commitments to our customers.

"Now we're extending those integrations to groups," Orton said. "Yammer is growing, not going away." 

The timing of these announcements came at the same time Facebook at Work announced its imminent launch. While Facebook clearly poses a threat, Microsoft's deep entrenchment within the workplace gives it a head start. We should expect further developments from Yammer in the months to come.