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Microsoft Announces Yammer Improvements To Come While Deprecating Some Yammer SharePoint Apps

Microsoft announced this week that it is working on a more team-oriented Yammer, and it will be bringing along some mobile app improvements, too.

Yammer is Microsoft's enterprise-grade social networking application that's part of some Office 365 subscription plans. Yammer can be used as a standalone service, but it's also used with SharePoint Server products and SharePoint Online implementations.

New Teams Orientation
Microsoft's plans for Yammer are to surface groups more in Yammer and optimize the service for teams, according to an announcement by the company this week. Previously, Yammer's focus was on "home feeds" for network-wide sharing. Microsoft is now aiming to deliver a new teams-oriented Yammer to all of its customers by the end of this year, although it will push out these features earlier for testing purposes.

"Some users will see an early version of a new feature appear for a while in their Yammer experience while we are testing it, then disappear as we pull it back for further work and finalization," Microsoft's announcement, attributed to Juliet Wei, Yammer senior product marketing manager, explained.

The new teams-oriented Yammer will have a "discovery feed" feature that points users to other Yammer groups. Wei explained that the discovery feed is a renamed and improved "home feed."

The new Yammer also will have a real-time feed indicator. It appears in the left pane of a Yammer app, showing the number of newly added posts.

Mobile App Improvements
Mobile improvements will be arriving "over the coming months," according to Wei.

There will be a new "group updates" feed coming to Yammer. It provides a summary view of a person's subscribed groups. This feature will arrive on the Android platform first, followed by iOS, Wei indicated.

Searching for coworkers using their e-mail addresses will be added to Yammer mobile apps. Also added will be "type-ahead functionality" that will suggest people and groups to add to a conversation as a user composes a message.

It will be possible to attach files using storage services such as Dropbox and OneDrive. Users will be able to attach multiple images, too. The image files can be marked up via touch.

2016 Improvements
Wei noted a number of plans Microsoft has for Yammer next year, including a "deeper integration with Office 365" to support teams. There also will be a new "external groups" capability that will let Yammer users invite outside participants to join Yammer groups.

Microsoft's Office Graph technology will be leveraged to produce "better people and group suggestions" in Yammer, Wei noted.

The Groups service in Office 365 will be tapped for "cross-workload scenarios with OneDrive, Outlook, OneNote and Skype," Wei noted. She didn't explain this particular Yammer integration in any detail, though. Microsoft apparently sees the Groups service as enabling technology for Yammer but see Microsoft MVP Christian Buckley's discussion about the implicit Groups vs. Yammer tension, at least among users.

Microsoft also plans to let Office Online users have access to "multi-user coauthoring in Yammer."

Deprecated Yammer Apps for SharePoint
Some of the Yammer apps used with SharePoint are going away. Microsoft MVP Vlad Catrinescu recently noted in a blog post that Microsoft plans to consolidate its various Yammer apps used with SharePoint, starting as soon as next month. Here's a summary of those upcoming changes by Microsoft:

  • The Yammer App for SharePoint Server 2013 and SharePoint Online will stop working on September 15, 2015. It loses support from Microsoft on that date.
  • The Yammer Web Part for SharePoint 2010 will stop working on March 15, 2016. It also won't be supported, which means that the app won't get patches and security updates from Microsoft.

Organizations using these deprecated Yammer App and Yammer Web Part products need to move to Yammer Embed before those deadlines, according to Microsoft. The company apparently explained this product deprecation back in March. It was tucked away in this "Office 365 Network" Yammer feed post.

The Yammer Embed app is Microsoft's "single solution going forward" for SharePoint. Microsoft is claiming that the Yammer Embed rollout will help avoid some of the complexity issues that organizations have faced with its other Yammer apps. For instance, one of the problems associated with the Yammer App for SharePoint was that IT pros had to "manually update every SharePoint site to get the latest functionality," according to this Microsoft support article.

Yammer's position with regard to SharePoint has been somewhat controversial since businesses running SharePoint Server on premises may have requirements that don't include a pure cloud-based solution such as Yammer. However, Microsoft has insisted over the years that Yammer will be its main social networking tool for SharePoint going forward.

About the Author

Kurt Mackie is senior news producer for the 1105 Enterprise Computing Group.

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