When the Office team reaches out to say hello, the topic of social media is not your first guess as to what they want to talk about. Little did I know that in fact, this time around, social media was the topic at hand, and that it has been weighing heavy on the minds of the Office crew.
So much so in fact that the team is back to pushing and promoting a little known piece of Outlook 2010, the Outlook Social Connector. Outlook Social Connector is an Outlook component that integrates Facebook, LinkedIn, MySpace, and Windows Live into the software. Why Twitter is excluded is a mystery.
Citing a recent survey, Microsoft is today reporting that social media is growing as a normal tool of office communication. To wit, some 37% of workers surveyed aged 18-24 use social media to “communicate and build relationships with colleagues.” Of the total surveyed group, some 89% said that their personal use of social media rose in the last year.
TNWmicrosoft recently compiled a simply massive look into Office and its future as a franchise and market leader, but something that we did leave out was social media. Why? Because we saw little to no cross over at the time. Microsoft disagrees:
“[H]ere at Microsoft, we believe that social networking can also deliver real business value for all types of organizations.”
“[S]ocial tools in the office can help with collaboration.”
There are a few questions to ask from this new push by Microsoft to appear “in the game” with social media. Is the company is trying to get ahead of Google, or has it heard chatter from various partner channels that it is responding to?
Either way, we are surprised at how serious Microsoft is taking social media in Office. The company, if it wished, could expand the social elements of new products such as Office 365 quite simply. A social future for productivity suites? Call us conservative but we find it slightly unnerving.
Update: rumors are circulating that MySpace support inside of the Outlook Social Connector has been pulled. We have reached out to Microsoft for comment.