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Microsoft OfficeTalk to take on Twitter?

Software giant tests business micro-blogging tool

Microsoft plans to start a small-scale pilot of a microblogging service aimed at business users that it has been experimenting with in Office Labs.

It didn't reveal many details of the service but said it has been testing it internally and the company is now looking for customers willing to participate in a pilot test.

Called OfficeTalk, the service is designed to let employees share brief bits of information, similar to the way that people use Twitter. "This concept test applies the base capabilities of microblogging to a business environment, enabling employees to post their thoughts, activities, and potentially valuable information to anyone who might be interested," according to a blog post on the Office Labs site.

OfficeTalk was one of the most popular internal concept tests at Office Labs, the post says.

"Not only was the obvious demonstrated, that people don't limit microblogging activity to the purely social, but that even an IT managed implementation focused on business productivity can spread quickly across informal networks and create unique collaboration efficiencies and experiences," it said.

Microsoft now wants to test OfficeTalk along with other social-networking experiments with a few customers. It hopes to study ways that businesses and people use the technologies, according to the blog post.

Microsoft is following other companies that are already offering microblogging software for enterprises. For instance, SocialText, StatusNet, Yammer, Socialcast and Salesforce's Chatter are all microblogging products used by enterprises.

Office Labs researchers are always quick to point out that they work on experiments that may never become live products, and this blog post is no different. "OfficeTalk isn't a product - it's a research project focused on learning how people might use social networking tools at work and in what ways both people and organisations realize their value," it reads.


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