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July 22, 2022

Microsoft Teams adds a Facebook clone

Storyline/Viva Engage/Viva Connections, the new way to suck up to management at work.

For those of you who like performative networking at work to get ahead, you’ll be happy to know that Microsoft has a new platform to connect with your colleagues: Storyline, which looks very much like Microsoft saw and thought Facebook, yes, we can do that.

Oddly, Microsoft can’t even seem to decide what to call its new network. In a video, the company calls the new network Microsoft Viva Engage.

In another instance, Microsoft calls the new platform Storyline. They look identical and have the same function: you can post to your company’s feed, create groups and tell stories in the spirit of Facebook and Instagram. Editor’s note: Microsoft says Storyline is a feature of Viva Engage, a Facebook-like feed of messages and/or stories.

They all run on top of Microsoft Viva, which was Microsoft’s effort to replace your company’s intranet when it launched last year with Viva Connections, Viva Insights, Viva Learning and Viva Topics. Viva Connections was announced as a virtual place for employee interactions, which basically sounds like the precursor to Storyline / Viva Engage. So yes, now that’s three names for what is essentially the same thing.

But wait – doesn’t Microsoft already have a social network? Well, it has two: Microsoft bought Yammer ten years ago for $1.2 billion and since then the collaboration platform has been integrated into Office and Teams, where … you’ve probably never used. And of course, Microsoft bought LinkedIn in 2016 for $26.2 billion, which has become the de facto site for polishing your resume and positioning yourself as a business influencer.

According to Microsoft, Storyline will open in public preview in August. The Communities app for Teams will be renamed Viva Engage. Current Yammer customers can deploy and pin Viva Engage to the Teams left rail through the Teams management center. Messages created in Storyline reach Microsoft Viva Connections, Outlook, Teams and Yammer via a new Storylines tab.

Essentially, the new Viva Engage is a rebranding of Yammer. “The Yammer web experience and native Yammer mobile apps will remain part of Microsoft 365 SKUs and the same communities, storylines and stories will be made available through both Yammer and the new Viva Engage app,” Microsoft said.

Microsoft also says that although Viva Engage is made available to commercial Microsoft 365 customers at no additional cost, your company will need a Yammer license to use the app.

Yet with Storyline, you can still virtually listen to lessons your chief executive has learned in the corporate world and inspirational messages from your HR department. You can post your own inspirational messages, respond with emoji (the “praying hands” is a favorite) and spread company credentials across your timeline. You can post about your work and follow other interesting people in your company to learn more about them, Microsoft says. You can share short videos to express yourself.

And if you’re worried that Storyline / Viva Engage / Viva Connections will just add more clutter to your digital lifestyle as yet another place where something crucial can be stored – well, Storyline / Viva Engage / Viva Connections will be integrated into Teams, Microsoft says. That means content is searchable, so when your boss posts a new photo of his favorite pet, you can quickly “like” it – if the Storyline / Viva Engage / Viva Connections notification doesn’t alert you already. Soon you’ll be associate vice president in no time!

In more practical news, Microsoft also announced Excel Live, a way to collaboratively edit Excel documents within Teams. This will likely be useful for discussing issues during Teams meetings between customers, company executives, and regular employees. Of course, who has time for that?

source: pcworld

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