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Microsoft OfficeTalk: Yet Another Way To Communicate

OK, so it's not a product yet, but it probably will be at some point. Or it'll be part of another product. And we're kind of wondering why.

We're referring here to OfficeTalk, a Microsoft project that's getting tons of attention right now. Here's how we've most often seen it described: Twitter for the workplace. Great. First, we here at RCPU have to get on Twitter because it's what everybody else is doing (something we still don't quite understand). Now, we're facing the possibility of having to deal with Twitter at work?

People must just love this "microblogging" stuff. We find it arrogant and mindless, mostly, and figure that it usually amounts to a big waste of time. So, do folks really want people tweeting -- or OfficeTalking, or whatever -- in the office all day? Apparently this little application has caught on inside Microsoft. Fantastic. Let Microsoft keep it a secret (too late...).

Look, here's the deal: We at RCPU are all for communication, but we don't think that anybody lacks for methods of communication right now. Mobile devices, e-mail, social-networking sites and even some old-fashioned telephone calls keep us all tied together pretty well.

Your editor recently got to see an extensive, interactive demo of Outlook 2010 and Exchange 2010, and the communication capabilities in those products are mind-blowing. (Their integration into the rest of the Microsoft stack is also amazing.) Seriously. Go get the Outlook 2010 beta if you want a taste. There's some amazing stuff in there. Every possible form of communication seems to blend into every other seamlessly -- only the voice-recognition element (which we've never trusted, anyway, and don't totally understand the mainstream need for) was a bit sketchy. Everything else was incredible, at least in the demo.

Is OfficeTalk, then, really necessary? Partners, will it help you snatch customers away from Lotus Notes if and when it becomes part of, say, SharePoint? If so, great. Really, if it's a sales booster for the channel, we're all for it. But it sure seems like a built-in office time-waster -- as if the Web doesn't already offer enough of those -- and just another management hassle for IT. How many ways do we really need to get a hold of each other? One more, apparently.

What's your take on Twitter for the workplace? Do we need it? Sound off at lpender@rcpmag.com.

Posted by Lee Pender on March 24, 2010 at 11:56 AM