Microsoft Loves Yammer Boosts Integration with Office 365 for Education

If Microsoft’s strategy for Yammer and its integration into the wider portfolio got off to a shaky start after the acquisition in 2012, it now appears rock solid. Over the past few months, the company has announced tight integration with a number of apps, with special Yammer love for Office 365.

This week, Microsoft officials noted that Yammer Enterprise will ship with all Office 365 Education plans for no additional cost, as of April 1. Currently, education customers can use free Yammer Basic.

Social Networking Strategy

This is no real surprise given that in November Microsoft extended integration to all the enterprise plans. The result was that all business Office 365 pricing plans came with Yammer Enterprise. Existing customers who had signed up to Office 365 before the Yammer acquisition were also offered Yammer.

That left only the education plans, which Microsoft has now said will get Yammer Enterprise, too —  including existing users.  However, if users can’t wait, they can use the basic version of Yammer straight away, which comes with select social and collaboration capabilities that can be upgraded once the Enterprise version becomes available.

The Yammer app for SharePoint integration was released in July of last year and enable users to embed into SharePoint Online in Office 365 as well as SharePoint 2013, with a separate web part available for those that want to place it in SharePoint 2007, or the 2010 edition.

Reaction to the news on social media today was generally positive. The best comment may have come in a tweet from Alan Lepofsky (@alanlepo), vice president and principal analyst at Constellation Research. Lepofsky, who focuses on collaboration software, called it "a nice way to seed the future market."

'Go With Yammer'

While Microsoft has been clear for some time that it Yammer should be used as the social layer for SharePoint, it has now become a mantra. “Go with Yammer” they are told — and with the Education release, it is no different.

A blog post outlining the Office 365 Education integration answers a number of questions on the integration. In answer to the question what should you use for social networking, Yammer or SharePoint 2013, it states:

Go with Yammer. Yammer will power the social experiences in SharePoint, Office365, Dynamics and Skype. Yammer’s unique adoption model appeals directly to end users and makes it easy for organizations to become social ‘instantly’ – removing one of the biggest barriers to success with Enterprise Social."

In response to the question, what is the guidance for Office 365 customers? You got it, “Go with Yammer”.

Microsoft doesn’t go into the specifics of its roadmap for Yammer, but does indicate that it will continue working on deeper connections between Yammer and SharePoint, and will soon offer seamless navigation.

By the fall, we’ll be bringing the user experiences closer together and provide a seamless navigation between Yammer and Office 365, a rich document collaboration experience and a single sign-on experience. We’ll continue to add more and more connections to deliver ‘Connected Experiences’ that combine social, collaboration email and Unified Communications with an enterprise-class social platform for security, management and compliance.”

Unfortunately for now, that is as far as Microsoft goes with this, but it has calendared a session on Enterprise Social for the SharePoint conference on March 3, where it promise to outline its vision of social in the enterprise and its product roadmap going forward.

Title image by alphaspirit (Shutterstock).