Apple, under Steve Jobs leadership, was known for its secrecy — very little was known about the iPhone, for example, before it was officially unveiled.
Microsoft, under Satya Nadella’s leadership, may go down in history for its propensity to leak information. There was the acquisition of calendar app Sunrise that TechCrunch uncovered a week before it was announced, the not-so-secret purchase of e-mail app Accompli and ever popular leaks about SharePoint 2016.
Now it seems Microsoft is building something called Flow, a chat app that works with Outlook.
“Flow” was discovered by Twitter user Walking Cat, who has a propensity of uncovering Microsoft's accidental leaks on the Internet. Flow seems to have been specially built for a generation that prefers to communicate in short phrases like on Facebook and Twitter.
well Microsoft, if it really confidential, don't put it on publicly accessible Internet, LOL. pic.twitter.com/BX0Bw0SpKw— WalkingCat (@h0x0d) May 19, 2015
By appearance, Flow looks like it will initially be an iPhone app that promises to help users “focus on what’s important” by limiting it to conversations that are started in the app.
The description says that it will facilitate “fast, fluid, natural conversations, without the hassles of subject lines, salutations or signatures” and that it was designed to avoid the formality of traditional emails or the hassle.
The only step you’d need to take to contact someone is to enter their Outlook address, similarly to how it’s done in existing messaging services. Some of those who have heard of “Flow” liken it to the lightweight video chat client introduced for Skype last year.
Because of Flow’s attachment to Outlook, which is the defacto email vehicle at many companies, it looks as if it is aimed at the enterprise.
If so, and it succeeds in delivering a “more modern” experience that was built for mobility (meaning that it’s omnipresent on all end-user devices, PC’s included), it could be key to helping Microsoft retain its leadership among business users — a position the Redmond, Wash.-based company hasn’t yet won in the new mobile-first, cloud-first world.