Microsoft begins absorbing Yammer into SharePoint
Microsoft will shine the spotlight this week on SharePoint's new 2013 version at a conference devoted to the popular collaboration server, but recently acquired Yammer may grab substantial attention.
While Microsoft has detailed SharePoint 2013's many new features in recent months, it hasn't provided much color regarding how SharePoint will be fused with the cloud-hosted Yammer enterprise social networking software.
Microsoft started to address those burning questions on Monday at its SharePoint Conference 2012 in Las Vegas with an initial integration road map for the two products.
Before Microsoft bought Yammer for US$1.2 billion in July, enterprises had been able to integrate SharePoint and Yammer to an extent using their respective APIs (application programming interfaces). However, Microsoft announced on Monday that it is working to deepen that through unified identity and single sign-on, combined document management and aggregation of their respective notification feeds.
Later, much deeper integration among Yammer, SharePoint, and other Microsoft products will follow, officials said.
Microsoft also announced that it is eliminating Yammer's Business edition, and that it is slashing the price of the more sophisticated Enterprise edition from $15 to $3 per user per month.
In addition, Microsoft will bundle Yammer Enterprise with SharePoint Online, the cloud-hosted version of the product, which can be bought on a stand-alone basis or as part of the broader Office 365 suite.
Beyond Yammer, Microsoft also announced native SharePoint mobile applications for Windows 8, Windows Phone, iOS and Android devices. The mobile applications will give users access to SharePoint 2013 news feeds and documents.
"SharePoint 2013 is pivotal because it's the beginning of a new era," said Jared Spataro, senior director of SharePoint Product Marketing, during a two-hour keynote that opened the conference.
Specifically, this release represents the last of the big three-year upgrades for the product and introduces a more iterative, 90-day cycle of improvements focused on SharePoint Online, he said.
Spataro and other Microsoft speakers, including Jeff Teper, SharePoint corporate vice president, made it clear that the company prefers that customers use SharePoint Online instead of installing the product on premise.
"We recommend moving to the cloud for the best performance overall," Teper said. For customers not ready to run SharePoint in the cloud, SharePoint 2013 offers the biggest update of the product ever, he added.
In fact, much of the conference, which runs through Thursday, will be devoted to discussing in detail the long list of improvements in SharePoint 2013 for IT professionals, end users and developers that have been announced in recent months and described in blog posts and online guides.
Those include a redesign of the user interface that follows the new Windows 8 "Modern" style, which has been optimized for touchscreens, as well as the addition of SkyDrive Pro for storing and synchronizing documents.
SharePoint 2013, which will ship in the first quarter of next year, also features improved task management and a revamped search engine, as well as more sophisticated e-discovery and Web publishing capabilities.
SharePoint, which first shipped in 2001, is used primarily by enterprises to build websites -- intranets, public sites, forums, blogs, wikis -- as well as for storing, searching and managing documents, with the ultimate purpose of letting users interact and collaborate in various ways.
Although SharePoint has been a successful product -- it now generates about $2 billion in annual revenue -- it has been faulted by some for not being end-user friendly and, in recent years, for lacking enterprise social networking (ESN) capabilities.
Microsoft's surprising decision to buy Yammer was seen as an acknowledgement of that last criticism. Yammer had been a leading independent ESN vendor, along with others like Jive Software and NewsGator. ESN software products offer users social media features popularized by companies like Facebook, Google and Twitter but adapted for a workplace setting and featuring controls for IT departments.
ESN software typically includes individual profiles, activity streams, status updates, microblogging, document sharing, online groups, discussion forums, content tagging, blogs and the like. It also offers the ability to integrate these social collaboration capabilities with third-party business applications, like CRM (customer relationship management), ERP (enterprise resource planning), unified communications and office productivity suites.
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