back to article Thanks a lot, Facebook: Microsoft turns Office 365 into social network

If you're avoiding friending your manager on Facebook or Twitter, the net is tightening: Microsoft has stitched new social network-like features into all of its productivity products. In a keynote speech today at the company's Sharepoint conference, Microsoft corporate vice-president Jeff Teper ushered in "the transformation …

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  1. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Oh hell no!

    It's bad enough Marketing trying to push us all to use Yammer.

  2. Herby

    Sounds like an excuse...

    To goof off and not get any "work" done with the "productivity application".

    After all isn't that what Facebook is already?

  3. Fill
    WTF?

    Who wants this?

    This is another example of a feature/product I can't imagine even MS management using or wanting. Of all the top technology companies, Microsoft is the only one where it is hard to believe they use or at least like their own products. Does Ballmer like playing XBox with ten year olds cursing at him in his headset? Does he have a Windows Phone? A Zune? Does he actually like the interface of Windows 8? Does he prefer Bing? It is a bit of a head scratcher how/why they keep pushing such half baked features and products. They've taken their core business, Windows and Office, and are morphing them into things that people don't want to use any more.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Who wants this?

      Most large companies are already using this sort of stuff via Yammer and Sharepoint!

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Who wants this?

        Most large companies HAVE Yammer and Sharepoint. Where they are both studiously avoided by everybody except the people responsible for installing them in the first place.

        Despite the weekly reminder emails and begging for us to post something, our company intranet is a wasteland that makes Google+ look positively vibrant.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Who wants this?

          Every large corp. I have worked at (a fair number) makes very extensive use of SharePoint, and Yammer more recently seems to be everywhere too. I think your company is a rare exception, and probably has crap management and a crap communications department if your Intranet is unused. Or maybe you are too menial a grade to get access to where it all happens?

          What's Google+ btw - never heard of it. Are they trying to get into the SharePoint market? (good luck with that!)

          1. Destroy All Monsters Silver badge

            Re: Who wants this?

            makes very extensive use of SharePoint

            Yep. Because everyone needs a roach motel for word documents.

            And now - Socialization.

            NO FLESH SHALL BE SPARED!

          2. Pascal Monett Silver badge

            Re: Every large corp. I have worked at (a fair number) makes very extensive use of SharePoint

            So you're saying that, since 2001, you have worked at a "fair number" of very large corporations ?

            That either means that your notion of a "fair number" is rather limited, or your CV is creatively describing good reasons for several abrupt departures that are commonly described as "getting fired".

            And if you've had that many hasty exits in the past 14 years, then you are not well-placed for criticising other people's companies.

            In truth though, your attitude is much more of a troll than anything else. So I doubt very much that you have ever set foot in a very large corporation. Unless it's to do the cleaning.

        2. MIc

          Re: Who wants this?

          @Fill

          And you have data to back this up?

    2. MIc

      Re: Who wants this?

      [dup] deleted

  4. Sebastian A

    I only need to know one thing...

    Where's the option to disable it?

    There is one, right?

    Guys?

    1. Fill
      Unhappy

      Re: I only need to know one thing...

      The thing is, this is exactly the sort of thing a clueless middle manager would force you to use because it's the 'latest thing'.

  5. silent_count
    FAIL

    The 'improved' Office 'features' which nobody wants to compliment the 'improved' Windows 'features' which nobody wanted.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Grammar nazi FTW

      I'm sure you meant to say "complement"...

      1. This post has been deleted by its author

  6. solo
    Windows

    Social?

    The digital divide. I don't see a friend who is not in an IT company and loves to talk about his colleagues (apart from 2-3 friends in the same company).

    Colleagues are so boring..why'd we socialize with them? I thought Metro meant more private life.

  7. Grade%
    Devil

    Clique-alizer 1.0

    Oooh, look who's hanging with what's their face. Tsk, see those two? Who couldn't tell that was coming?

    This is going to be GREAT!!

  8. Arctic fox
    Unhappy

    Unfortunately although we may not like it.....

    .......there are a lot out there who do, God help us all. Whether it's that ignoramus of a marketing manager or the retail market populated by those whose response to RTFM is to grizzle and whine "why doesn't it just work?" - it is big business with a lot of the folding riding on it. I for one am not looking forward to this brave new world.

    1. Pascal Monett Silver badge

      Not to worry, this is going to be another bust on the (increasingly large) list of Microsoft failures.

      Work is to do work, not to pitter-patter around "social" tools. The only ones who think this is good are the people who earn money doing Powerpoint charts. They will be happy with it, for sure.

      The rest of the grunts don't have time for social tools. They have a mountain of things to actually get done before the end of the day and if that doesn't happen, no amount of "social tooling" will avoid getting their ass fired.

      So for once this is a Microsoft product that will clearly define its users : it will be the ones who consider themselves "deciders" and spend their time crowing about how good they are at it.

      The rest of us will just suffer with Office in our dank cubicles and be grateful we get a check at the end of the month instead of a pink slip.

  9. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Social Cloud Analytics Mobile

    Let the acronym speak for itself.

  10. Charles Manning

    Trending graphs

    I was going to make a joke about trending graphs, but MS beat me to it!

    MS have really struggled with their collaborative work stuff forever:

    Sharepoint: Not even as good as using drop box or ftp.

    Visual Source Safe. Worst damn source control system ever.

    Like a lot of these "add X to Y make it shiny" projects, this is icing a turd again. The bling only adds value if the underpinnings are solid, otherwise they will just grate. This is all going to suck badly unless they've done the hard bit - fix the underlying document sharing technology..

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Trending graphs

      Source Safe? Blimey, that hasn't been updated since 2005... let the past go, dude!

      But Sharepoint... yep, with you on that one!

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Trending graphs

      I'm hardly a fan of SharePoint, but surely a better comparison would be between OneDrive and Dropbox?

      Apropos SharePoint, the latest CUs and SPs are just plain horrible. They've made an overly horrible product damn-near unusable, and they don't even seem to care at all. Consumers running away in droves is one thing, but pissing on your corporate clients is something altogether different.

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Trending graphs

      Strange how Microsoft market share and revenue in these segments keeps growing then...

      1. Adrian 4

        Re: Trending graphs

        That's because they sell to managers, not users.

    4. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: icing a turd

      When turds ice up at least they don't go splat when thrown...

      1. Destroy All Monsters Silver badge

        Re: icing a turd

        pissing on your corporate clients is something altogether different.

        It's just another golden shower.

  11. Denarius Silver badge
    Meh

    has an upside

    handwritten documents are beginning to look more concise, private and timesaving, not to mention private. I think I will hunt up working typewriters for the office. Or become a hermit. This M$ change sounds like a nightmare for security in large multi-site Big Corp. Lets hope OpenOffice/LibreOffice do not copy this "feature"

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: has an upside

      "Lets hope OpenOffice/LibreOffice do not copy this "feature""

      Unlikely seeing as it's clearly a business / enterprise feature set. Those open source cut down office products are more suited for home users.

      1. earl grey
        Trollface

        Re: has an upside

        Feature? I think you meant Failure.

  12. John Tserkezis

    I knew I was avoiding Office 365 for a good reason.

    "Lets hope OpenOffice/LibreOffice do not copy this "feature""

    Holy crap, if this happens, I'm screwed. I've occasionally pushed some heavy scripting into some of their products, and stuffed if I'm going to re-write all that again.

    1. Anonymous Bullard
      Thumb Up

      Don't worry, it will fork if it does.

      That's the beauty of OSS.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Forked if you do, forked if you don't... wonderful idea, let's halve the number of users by having two incompatible, barely supported pieces of software...

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          You must enjoy being dictated to.

  13. king of foo

    NO. JUST NO.

    That is all

  14. streeeeetch

    Productivity... or not

    This reminds me of George Bush saying "The problem with the French is that they don't have a word for entrepreneur" because Microsoft obviously don't know what productivity means.

    No-one likes change to their well practiced office routine but this is a good case for at least trying Libre/ Open Office. Unless you do really serious spreadsheet or *any* database work, you might be pleasantly suprised. What have you got to lose - it's free.

    1. mitch 2

      Re: Productivity... or not

      Bush said many daft things but not that: http://www.snopes.com/quotes/bush.asp

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Productivity... or not

      It really isn't...worth it - or free (unless your time is of no value)

      1. Pascal Monett Silver badge

        Re: It really isn't...worth it - or free (unless your time is of no value)

        Yes it is free and worth it.

        Go get your check already, we can see the logo now.

    3. cambsukguy

      Re: Productivity... or not

      Used OO, on Unbuntu 12 a year ago or so. One day I couldn't even open a simple Word doc sent from within the same org. not just failed to open but crashed the app each and every time.

      There is a reason large orgs don't use free software, it is too expensive.

      1. Adrian 4

        Re: Productivity... or not

        Yes, I have random anecdotes about long-obsolete versions of software, too.

        What's your point ?

    4. JLV
      Paris Hilton

      Re: Productivity... or not

      >French ... don't have a word for entrepreneur

      Hmmm, isn't that a French word in the first place?

      This thing looks about as draft as it gets. Why confuse work with social-butterflying again?

  15. whoseyourdaddy
    FAIL

    Yikes.

    Sounds like something that just can't quite kill the frequent and productivity-murdering meeting with my codorkers (who need an audience to talk to or their heads will implode.)

    I'll stick with Atlassian Confluence, thank you very much.

  16. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Raise a glass!

    Another thing to add to the long, triumphant list of concepts Microsoft has spectacularly failed to grasp.

  17. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I'm quite interested in the idea

    Being able to share work with managers and all those above them, finding out what people below you have just come up with, seeing what elements of your work other departments are most interested in.

    I absolutely hate the 'social' side of these things, but this is just data: who, what, when and where. About time.

    Now where's my database FS?

  18. TheTrouser

    I don't remember asking for something like this?

    Has anyone?

    Srsly?

  19. launcap Silver badge
    Unhappy

    Marvin mode

    <Sounds ghastly>

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Marvin mode

      "It is, absolutely ghastly!"

  20. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Beliefs

    From Article: Those beliefs? "Cloud, social, mobile, big data,"

    Maybe we could persuade them to replace all that crud with 'Producing documents and spreadsheets using a simple intuitive interface that encourages productivity and that people actually want"

    otherwise, sod off

  21. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    My last company

    They acquired a new general manager from the US who told everybody that communications were terribly important and everybody must stay completely on message. Any possible postings to social networks which mentioned the company in any way at all must first be approved by him, personally. Any customer communication must go through him except for support, which must not make any comment on the company beyond the immediate support issue, yada yada.

    Microsoft has failed to account for the fact that many managers are complete control freaks. Paradoxically, this "enhanced co-operation" is likely to make for even more of a bunker mentality among those who have to work for them.

  22. StanBumps
    Pint

    Relax

    People can just create a fake social media account to appease their workplace policy. It seems obvious, but surprising how many people don't know this!

  23. All names Taken
    Happy

    Chide if you must ...

    ... but MS is still brilliant.

    "Yammer buy to "weave social into the work people do every day, combining it with collaboration, email, instant messaging, voice, video and line-of-business applications"

    See, it has turned what once used to be called "skiving" or "skiving off" into an excellent, wholesome business opportunity.

  24. Zog_but_not_the_first
    Joke

    Why?

    Isn't "El Reg" our social network?

  25. Frankee Llonnygog

    I have three information classifications

    a) Care about; b) Need to know; c) Don't know, don't care

    I guess Mr Teper's brains are still a bit muddled from when he was drummer for Captain Beefheart - those flashbacks can be hell

    1. Steve Davies 3 Silver badge

      Re: I have three information classifications

      There I was listenting to Trout Mask Replica on the train today. A 'youf' asked me what the cool tunes were. I tried to explain about CB and the Music of that era.

      Cool stuff, more than can be said for what MS is offering in Office these days. As for Sharepoint..... [redacted] [redacted] and more [redacted].

      My last company tried to get us all to use Yammer. Lasted about a week. UI was to put it bluntly crap.

      Within a month no one was using it.

  26. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    This is for the up and coming generation. It's part of the next generation of office systems, everyone must have though email was inefficient at times and some companies do use IM clients.

    This is just tying it all together. If people want to work effectively across different offices it can work well to have better communication beyond phone or email.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      I think a job application is usually longer than than.

  27. A Long Fellow

    The spokesdrone says: "Today, the world has become a giant network where connections make information more relevant and people more productive,"

    The use of social media does not necessarily make information "more relevant", and absolutely nobody is "more productive" from its use.

    It will be depressing to see how many managers drink the Koolaid.

  28. Zot

    The Internet and general procrastination mucks my day up enough.

    I can't imagine what it would be like to have new messages from outside work coming at me while I'm trying to type, say, an important draft for a Parliamentary White Paper.

    *BingBong - Jimmy has sent you a picture of his sandwich, how nice.*

    *BingBong - Jenny has shared a video of idiots hurting their arses on the floor*

    etc. etc.

    I suppose switching it off would make the boss think you're antisocial or something god-awful like that.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: The Internet and general procrastination mucks my day up enough.

      Just wait till MS decide that biotech augumentation is the "next big thing'. There won't even be an off switch.

  29. Willie T

    Perplexing

    How many of the folks posting here have an actual IT career? At a company of more than a dozen employees or so? And do they actual read and/or comprehend the article or do they just see "Microsoft" and go off with their clubs to begin the bashing?

    Nothing suggests that the new "social" features in Office will be the same as Facebook, Twitter or any other time wasting social network. Other than the click bait title the article makes it clear that the concept is to allow users to "socialize" work efforts. In other words, if I am about to begin work on a new project I can scan the internal social sites or put out a query to see if anyone else has done something similar. If I remember seeing something about a recent document in a past email I can search for it easier even if it was not shared with me.

    Are people really that daft that they believed the new Office features were going to allow us to follow the personal lives of our co-workers? Really? It is a productivity enhancement. The managers that buy into these enhancements aren't quite as stupid as you think they are. The goal is to bring the concept of social networks to work, not the silliness. Sheesh.

    1. MissingSecurity

      Re: Perplexing

      Quite a few of us, and your right to point, its not going to replace FB and twitter, but I've never met a marketing team that doesn't want "social" interaction at work. I think this is to justify calling it collboration, instead of pointless.

      It's not really colboration, its part of the new office change where everyone is everyone's best friend, and makes for excellent smoke screen about workplace happiness. After all, if it "feels" like a social network we must all collborate.

      It really isn't productivity at all. Company chat, Email, Calanarding, filesharing, etc are collaboration, but really if it intended use was to keep people abreast of anything, you could just add an RSS feed.

      Personally, I think its just a data mining thing for Office 365. I just wonder how long before MS starts selling your corporate data to the highest bidder, or when the TOS change to include Ad's based on your socal history in Office 365.

    2. veti Silver badge

      Re: Perplexing

      Oh, I get the concept. But I think it's breathtakingly cynical, a level of evil that reminds one of the Microsoft of old.

      Sure, if you want to know what someone's been working on, check out their 'wall' equivalent on the company network. If you want to know if anyone's working on 'X', you can search for that. If you want to evaluate someone's productivity for their annual review (for very uninformative values of "productivity"), you've got a record of it right there. Which is all great, except for the last part which sounds horrible to me, but what do I know.

      Except that all this is predicated on everyone religiously using Office and, presumably, Sharepoint for all their work. Work done in tools like Notepad++ or Trello or TreePad or, productivity gods forbid, Google Docs will be effectively invisible. So I read it as "MS is trying to trick management into banning the use of non-MS software". Which is an absolutely minging idea, and I speak as one who works in a heavily-MS-invested company, because frankly the above-named tools are several orders of magnitude better than anything MS has produced for what they do.

    3. Pascal Monett Silver badge

      @ Willie T

      " if I am about to begin work on a new project I can scan the internal social sites or put out a query to see if anyone else has done something similar"

      Because you think someone will have posted something in that line ? If you are about to begin a new project; it is either because someone has told you to do it, or because you think it will make you look good to your manager.

      In the first case, you won't go waste time on the social, you're going to start working on the project in order to not look like you're wasting time or risk getting late. In the other case, you won't want to know if someone else has already done it because you want to be able to say that you did it from A to Z.

      Social networks in the company space always end up with a case of the lepers. When they arrive, everyone is told to use them for all the usual, marketingly-enthusiastic reasons. Then people notice that it does not help them do their work which they have already been doing properly for the past x years, and the one or two colleagues they need to talk to to get their work done are either not on the social thingy because not part of the local office, or are more comfortably contacted via other means (walking to the office next door comes to mind). From that point, the social thingy spirales into uselessness, then contempt when the workers realize that the only ones using it are the ones actively pining to look good to management, even at the cost of their productivity (or their productivity doesn't matter to the daily business).

      What irks me with this "social" trend is the way its apologists totally forget that all they are doing is trying to force people to replace actual social contact with a computer screen. When you've been working for some years in a company, you have social contact with all the people you need to get your work done - either that on you're fired because you don't talk to the people you need to talk to.

      So, except for the people who hate the other people they have to talk to and will gladly take a computer screen instead (it certainly does exist), all the people who are happy interacting in a human way with the people they need to keep in touch with will feel that using this social tool will simply tell the other people that they prefer using a computer to talk to them - in other words it is insulting. And normal people prefer not to insult people that they are happy to interact with.

      So if we really are in this happy world where everyone is pleased with all of their other colleagues, then nobody will need to use this social thing because they already talk to their colleagues and prefer doing so the human way. If, on the other hand, everybody hates everybody else, well putting a social thing in the middle will just put a glaring point on how much everyone prefers being somewhere else.

      Facebook works because people can pick and choose who they want to stay in contact with and it is done on a private level.

      The corporate environment is a place where people have to put up with people they appreciate to varying degrees. Socializing with those other people, especially when forced by managerial fiat, is something that is going to be automatically and intrinsically resisted in every way possible.

      Failure by design, in other words.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: @ Willie T

        You appear to have more free time to type internet stuff, than most have time to read it! : )

  30. BongoJoe

    Where's the Ribbon?

  31. Gartal

    Oh God......

    The more of this guff I see, the more I want to get a big hammer and join Ned Ludd in his stocking frame modification program.

  32. Derek Kingscote

    Me Too!

    Microsoft - the outfit that thought the internet was irrelevant!

    This is just "Me Too" and they are way behind the curve. Facebook and Twitter are high maintenance. [i.e. they waste a hellava lot of time] The last thing any productive individual needs is another high maintenance "tool".

    Facebookers and Twitterers are, most likely, using smartphones and tablets for access [just go to anywhere where people congregate and see how many people have their heads down looking at a diminutive screen].

    If this don't run on a tablet it's nowhere [and that means working with Apple and/or Google - how ironic ! ]; people are not going to run up a PC just for this.

    Some other important factors are deployment, [inc backups], training and support, who is going to deliver and manage that? Facebook and Twitter are user [mis]managed.

    How are you going to control this ?

    Will Microsoft be producing regular updates and patches ?

    Will you _ever_ have a life?

  33. Graham Triggs

    Not surprised by the negativity, but...

    Like most things, the devil is in the detail. How does this work in practice? How does it scale with organization size?

    The thing is, effective communication within a company is an important thing. I'm saying this as a developer who goes through daily rituals of stand ups, etc. Now, I'm not a fan of ritual communication - it generally means that you get information too late, or too early (which can be just as bad), and it interrupts your work day.

    Potentially, discovering documents being worked on can be useful for everybody in a company in facilitating communication - not just managers keeping an eye on what people are up to.

    Does this actually work in practice? Who knows, because I haven't tried it yet. But I'm actually kind of intrigued.

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