Microsoft has taken the first step in its integration roadmap for SharePoint and Yammer, allowing Office 365 customers to replace SharePoint Online's activity stream with Yammer's.
This first, modest integration point will let SharePoint Online users click on the Yammer link and launch a separate browser window where they're asked to sign in.
Later this year, Microsoft will deepen the integration with a single sign-on and the addition of Yammer to the main Office 365 interface, which will begin to merge the two products' user experience.
Next month, Microsoft will release a Yammer application for SharePoint that will let users embed a Yammer group feed into a SharePoint site. The application will work both with SharePoint Online and with the on-premises version of the server SharePoint 2013.
Also in July, Microsoft will provide instructions for replacing the SharePoint 2013 newsfeed with Yammer's.
For now, the first integration step in optional, but Microsoft is strongly suggesting that Office 365 customers make the activity stream switch to Yammer.
"Our recommendation is to use Yammer, since it's our big bet for enterprise social, and we're committed to making it the underlying social layer for all our products," said Christophe Fiessinger, a Microsoft Office Division product marketing manager.
Customers should also accompany the technical change with an outreach effort to promote the benefits of using the enterprise social networking features of Yammer, according to Fiessinger.
"To drive adoption and really get the value out of Yammer, you need a strategy, advocates, and openness to the way it will transform the way people in your organization work and communicate," he said.
Microsoft bought Yammer for $1.2 billion in mid-2012 in order to boost the development and availability of enterprise social collaboration features in SharePoint and in other Office and Microsoft business software like the Dynamics applications.
Microsoft makes a convincing case for the benefits of integrating Yammer with SharePoint and its other software to provide a common social collaboration layer, but the process is clearly complicated and will take years.