Microsoft is planning Facebook chat integration straight into its next-generation Office 15.
The software giant posted a job listing this week that describes a new feature in Office 15:
“For Office 15 we’re building new products to deliver integration of instant messaging/presence with social networks such as Facebook. In addition, develop Lync XMPP server to deliver seem less interoperation with other XMPP based IM/Presence/Conferencing solutions.”
Microsoft’s Facebook chat integration follows a similar social networking plugin released as part of Office 2010. ZDNet, who spotted the job posting, speculates that the integration wouldn’t be that useful. However, the social integration straight into products like Outlook and Lync will be of interest to some businesses and a cause for concern for others. Large corporations tend to block social networking sites like Facebook and having them baked straight into their primary productivity application could be troublesome. Consumers would likely welcome the change if implemented well. Imagine using Outlook as your main tool for communication with the added bonus of full social integration.
The first Office 15 screenshots began to leak this week, including additional Outlook screenshots that reveal Microsoft is planning to implement a Metro UI across its next Office product. Screenshots leaked earlier this week from an Microsoft Office 15 Milestone 2 build 15.0.2703.1000. Microsoft appears to be considering implementing a Metro UI in its Office suite. In the Milestone 2 build, Outlook has been updated with the Metro UI at the foot of the application to provide simple switching between different functions. Word, Excel, PowerPoint, Access and OneNote do not contain the Metro UI yet.
The screenshots also revealed a more flattened user interface within Outlook. Microsoft’s Outlook UI no longer seems cluttered and provides users with direct access to their mail in a simple and yet familiar way. Microsoft’s Metro design language is an internal code name for a typography-based design languages created and used by the company. Microsoft originally started using Metro in Media Center and showcased a full version in the company’s Zune products. Microsoft’s latest mobile operating system, Windows Phone 7, also features the Metro look and feel throughout. Microsoft has started to use the Metro UI on more of its web properties to produce a clean, fast and simple look.
It was recently revealed that Office 15 had reached the Milestone 2 phase of development. Office 15 screenshots began to appear over the weekend. Little is known about the new features included in Office 15 but WinRumors understands Microsoft is planning an improved meeting system and OWA enhancements for the next generation of Office. The company is seeking to employ an Outlook software development engineer at its corporate headquarters in Redmond, Washington. “We are now going to take OWA to the next level and build the next generation clients for desktop and the latest mobile and slate devices,” said a recent the job listing. “The next generation client will include world class messaging, contacts, calendaring and social collaboration for both enterprise and cloud, and will use the latest in web technology.”
Microsoft is believed to be readying Office 15 for the 2012 time-frame.