Microsoft OfficeTalk Clones Twitter, Challenges Yamme
Microsoft’s response to the microblogging phenomenon has officially arrived. OfficeTalk, a Microsoft Office Labs experiment, attempts to squeeze in next to solutions like Twitter by allowing employees to collaborate and share their thoughts on a 140 character limit.

Enterprise Chit Chat

Though Yammer has been widely known as Twitter for the Enterprse for quite some time now, OfficeTalk’s near-exact replica may garner them the same title:

Microsoft OfficeTalk screenshot

Much like a Yammer and Twitter mashup, OfficeTalk has all the features you'd expect from such a solution: 

  • 140 character limit
  • Profiles
  • Follow option
  • Search
  • Threaded conversations

The tool, which Microsoft has been internally testing, is reportedly one of the company's most popular unreleased solutions. The official Microsoft blog states that OfficeTalk has had more than 10,000 visitors and sees hundreds of messages posted daily. But the catch is that it's on-premise service, and, considering how popular the cloud is, are those numbers really enough to shake anything up?

Yammer, for instance, although in the cloud, was only available to companies with a business e-mail address for a long time. David Sacks, Yammer’s CEO, admitted that this sort of closed-door policy was one of Yammer’s biggest problems—specifically when users wanted to collaborate with their clients or business partners without inviting them to their company’s internal network. Their solution was to open Yammer Communities, a solution that brings the less formal into the collaboration station. 

Learning Opportunities

Also, wasn't Google Buzz a highly popular internal solution, too? Obviously, feelings about solutions used within a team don't always translate once it's available to the public.  

Social Microsoft

OfficeTalk fits right in with several of Micorosft's recent attempts to be more social, including the Outlook Social Connector which sticks Facebook, LinkedIn and Myspace updates right inside your e-mail, as well as SharePoint 2010 and its ability to connect with the new MySite social networking experience. 

Could OfficeTalk be yet another social solution that gets folded up into a larger Microsoft release? If so, we'd say the chances that it'll be lost in the enterprise whirlpool are significant. But if turns out to be a separate, cloud-based offering, then they might be onto something. 

For now, OfficeTalk is in a limited private pilot for research purposes. If you want to be a part in making this the next big enterprise chatting tool,  you can apply for consideration here