Facebook-for-suits puts on a fresh jacket. 'Classic' Yammer is so 2018. Behold, a public preview of 'New' Yammer

Didn't a soft drinks company try a similar stunt a few years ago?

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Microsoft has flung open the doors on its latest crack at Facebook-for-suits with a "New" Yammer.

After a good daubing with the Fluent Design brush, the updated platform, which the Windows giant originally picked up for $1.2bn in 2012, is now available in public preview form. Microsoft 365 Global Admins need only flick a toggle to move lucky users from "Classic" Yammer to the exciting world of the "New".

Yammer has struggled a little since its acquisition in terms of identity, finding itself nestled alongside Microsoft's team-collab hub Teams and 2016 acquisition LinkedIn. Certainly, the former has benefited from resources being poured into it by Microsoft, causing some to worry that Yammer's enterprise social media smarts might be lost in the noise.

Microsoft dispelled concerns about the platform's status by unveiling a redesign at the company's 2019 Ignite event, showing off "new capabilities and integrations that drive employee engagement throughout Microsoft 365." Six months later, and Microsoft is ready to let its customers have a go at the new shiny.

What's new?

As well as letting enterprises slap their corporate branding over the buffed-up interface, the first functionality alteration that leaps out is the change in naming from Groups to Communities. Microsoft insists that this is to "better convey the purpose of Yammer", and with the overuse of the word group in other products, there is a certain logic to the change.

Integration has been tightened up, making it easier to bring those "communities" and conversations into Outlook, SharePoint and, of course, Teams. Conversations can also be responded to using Outlook on the web, and those that have come to a conclusion can be closed. Polls and praise have been given new designs in order to stand out in announcements and, helpfully (considering one thing and another), live events have been improved.

Aiming for general availability in July, the platform also enjoys iOS and Android apps as well as a new Yammer app for Teams. Inbox integration is due to hit both Outlook desktop and web shortly, along with the new Yammer experience being emitted to SharePoint before long.

The refresh is needed: Yammer faces stiff competition in the enterprise space from Facebook's Workplace, which lays claim to 30,000 organisations worldwide as customers and over three million paying punters, and which leverages the anti-social network's considerable experience in the realm of social media.

Ad-slinger Google also has a toe in the corporate communication waters with Currents, which it already includes in the price of a G Suite subscription - the rival productivity suite to the Microsoft 365 line. ®

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