Microsoft-owned enterprise social network Yammer is introducing a handful of updates today, as rival Facebook prepares to launch its very own Facebook at Work service on Monday.
Among the new Yammer updates is the ability to create and co-author Microsoft Office documents — including Excel, Office, and PowerPoint — and share them with specific teams within Yammer.
It’s worth noting here that Yammer already offered Office editing functions, with users able to upload files into Yammer and preview and edit the documents. Now the integration has been ramped up a notch, and users are able to do everything within Yammer itself.
Collaboration has emerged as a key tool as document-editing software has increasingly shifted online. Google Docs helped popularize it, and Microsoft followed suit with is own online version of Office. But being able to work on Office documents with colleagues and view version history without leaving Yammer is a potentially useful feature.
Other updates rolling out today include the ability to browse and share SharePoint and OneDrive files without leaving Yammer, and links and attachments will now render more attractively in the app.
“This focus on enabling employees to get work done through deeper integration into the Office 365 suite has led to the fastest annual user growth in Yammer’s history,” the company said, in a blog post. “These new features start rolling out today and will be available to all Yammer users in the coming weeks.”
Today’s news comes a little over a week after Microsoft revealed that some big changes were coming to Yammer, a process that kicked off with the integration of Office 365 Groups. In the long-term, the Yammer Enterprise plan is being killed off. Yammer will effectively cease to exist as a standalone service from January 2017, with customers encouraged to move to an Office 365 Enterprise plan instead.
So while we already knew that Yammer and Office were being pushed closer together, the timing of today’s roll-out — three days before Facebook at Work officially launches — is notable. Facebook’s enterprise edition already garnered some big-name sign-ups during its beta, and it will be gunning for more. But Facebook doesn’t have the same grip on the workplace as Microsoft, so tightly aligning Yammer with Office makes a great deal of sense.