Wednesday, June 27, 2012

The confusing Microsoft messenger

The World's largest software company has me confused (again). But not this time over the naming of their software development tools or their licensing agreements for SME's, but over a seemingly small piece of technology, the enterprise messenger tool set.

It's pretty obvious that Microsoft's general consumer instant messenger product is no longer used by half as many people as a few years ago. In fact a quick sign in to MS Messenger (something I've not knowingly done in years) shows very few of my old contacts do the same. I guess the complete take-over of the social space by Facebook, which has its own messaging service, and Twitter has taken its toll. So many people now use Twitter as a peer-to-peer messaging service, as well as a way to broadcast their thoughts...it's taken over (within my sphere of friends anyway) as the primary online tool for 1-2-1 dialogue..... with mobile chat & text still the major platform with the younger generation.

I've also recently started using Lync, the computer-telephone integrated software that is described by Microsoft as their 'Enterprise-ready unified communications playform'. If you've never used it before, it is: part Messenger, part Skype, with Outlook integration. Note: it even has a mobile app, that I've not yet got to work.

So why then did MS this May just pay $8.5billion for Skype (making it their biggest every acquisition) and then only a couple of weeks ago agree to purchase Yammer, a leading provider of enterprise social networking services for $1.2 billion in cash?

Although Skype will create its own division (department not rift) within the software giant, Yammer will join the Microsoft Office Division. Potentially meaning that it will be integrated somehow with Lync and possibly Skype & Messenger?

This sounds like too many packages all doing the same thing to me. Each has it's own unique productive functionality, but they all also have significant functionality overlap, that will have to be integrated, standardised and quite possibly rationalised.
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