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Microsoft rolling out Groups in Office 365: the end of Yammer?

Microsoft announced that the first phase of a new capability called Groups in Office 365. In a nutshell, it looks like groups as commonly found in other ‘collaboration’ tools — a list of people who have shared access to information assets and a stream of messages.

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Here you see a ‘Marketing Campaigns’ Group with activity stream, and a comment thread hanging off one message.

The release stated that presently,

Groups will show up within the web experiences of Office 365 email and calendar and OneDrive for Business. In upcoming phases, we will add Yammer and Lync to the Groups experience to help you do even more.

But that confuses me. Isn’t Yammer basically the same thing as this Groups capability? Groups, activity streams, comments, shared files? Isn’t this basically a redo of Yammer functionality? Ok, granted Yammer has more functionality — like more advanced security and integrations — but this still strikes me as a duplication or replacement of Yammer functionality.

My bet: Microsoft is going to get rid of Yammer as a standalone brand. David Sacks, the former CEO and founder, has left the company, and other key staff have left. It looks like they are taking the ideas of Yammer and redoing them in Office, and making Office a much more attractive competitor to Google Drive.

I have been asking Google why they don’t have something like the activity stream of Yammer in the Google Drive experience, and I haven’t gotten a good answer. It looks like Microsoft has beaten them to the punch, and now they have a really good reason to launch something like this themselves.

But I still wonder why Groups isn’t just a roll out of Yammer in Office 365. And I fail to understand what Office would be like with both Groups and Yammer.