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Microsoft Releases Viva Engage App

The commercial release of Microsoft's Viva Engage app is now available, according to an announcement made on Tuesday.

Viva Engage is the latest addition to the Microsoft Viva "employee experience platform," which is a collection of about eight apps or "modules" that surface within the Microsoft Teams collaboration service. Microsoft had introduced Viva Engage during its Microsoft Inspire event last month, characterizing it as bringing "consumer-like social networking" capabilities to work environments.

Storyline and Stories Feature Additions
Microsoft will shortly be adding a couple of new features to Viva Engage.

One of them is called "Storyline," which is planned for a public preview release in "early September," according to another Tuesday Microsoft announcement. The other coming Viva Engage feature, "Stories," is expected to reach the public preview stage this fall, with a "general availability" commercial release expected in "January 2023."

Storyline is a place for learning more about people within an organization. It permits the ability to share and discover content, and connect across Teams, Outlook, Yammer and Microsoft Viva.

"Storyline is like LinkedIn within an organization," explained Dan Holme, principal product manager lead on the Yammer team, during an Aug. 2 "Future of Yammer and Viva Engage" Microsoft Web presentation. The information in Storyline comes from individuals, rather than from a community, he added.

IT departments will get controls over Storyline, including the ability to disable it. Holme showed this "Storyline Governance" slide to that effect:

[Click on image for larger view.] Figure 1. Governance controls for IT over the coming Storyline feature in Microsoft Viva Engage (source: Aug. 2 Microsoft Web presentation).

Stories, the other coming Viva Engage feature, was described by Holme as a "media-centric post." Users can create and share images or videos using a desktop camera or mobile device camera. The sharable videos are currently limited to 90 seconds in length.

Stories posts are discoverable. Transcripts can be obtained through Microsoft Stream on SharePoint. A Story gets suggested for other users to see and can be viewed in those users' "carousels" for 30 days. A carousel is a kind of rolling collection of populated links located at the top of a screen.

Yammer Communities App Getting Replaced
Today's general availability commercial-release announcement of Viva Engage also marks the period when the Yammer Communities app will start to be replaced by the Viva Engage app.

The Yammer Communities app will be automatically replaced by Viva Engage, which will take place "over the following few weeks" after today's general availability release, Holme had explained in this July Q&A announcement.

The overall general Viva Engage rollout, including its new user experience, will take place "from the end of August to the end of September," according to Microsoft's Tuesday announcement.

Organizations with Microsoft 365 or Yammer licenses are getting the Viva Engage app at no extra cost. Microsoft hinted, though, that it may charge more if it added to the Viva Engage product in the near future.

Viva Engage is based on Yammer, but Microsoft indicated in its announcement that it plans to continue to support Yammer as a separate product, even with the Storyline and Stories additions.

The Yammer web experience and the native Yammer mobile apps will continue to be a part of Microsoft 365 SKUs and the same communities, storylines, and stories are made available through both Yammer and the new Viva Engage app. We are continuing to invest in Yammer and bring the powers of Yammer to Microsoft 365 and Viva.

For IT pros, Microsoft explained that "Viva Engage is backed by Yammer and uses the same infrastructure and policies you set for Yammer," including "security, privacy, and compliance considerations."

IT departments overseeing Microsoft Teams currently can add the Viva Engage app using the Teams Admin Center portal.

"With Teams app policies, admins can install the Viva Engage app and pin it to the Teams app bar on desktop and the web," the announcement explained. "On Teams mobile, the Viva Engage app can be pinned in the app tray."

About the Author

Kurt Mackie is senior news producer for 1105 Media's Converge360 group.

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