Nerd For Tech
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Nerd For Tech

Microsoft’s Brilliant, Quiet, Social Media Play

Image by Ryan McGuire from Pixabay

Chances are, if you’re in the business world, in knowledge work, you’ve used and grown up with the main Microsoft Office suite of products. The majority of you reading this are using a Windows OS PC. If, like me, you have a Mac, you probably have some version of Microsoft Office installed. And you’re thinking, yeah but Microsoft hasn’t built a social media platform. This is true in the sense of Facebook, Twitter or Snap. But they have a huge social media play underway. It’s brilliant.

Microsoft has and is, building social connectivity into most every app it has. Word, Excel, PowerPoint, all have the ability to collaborate in real-time whether through desktop apps or browser based. Teams is their version of Slack and it’s becoming ever more powerful. And they have new tools on the way.

First, let’s take a look at two key words here. Social and media. One can be forgiven for associating social media as meaning consumer, mass media. It is. It isn’t. The social means the ability to connect socially. Media means the medium. For the likes of Twitter, Meta (Facebook), Snap, Instagram Pinterest, they are social. They’re also media channels. I’m leaving TikTok out of this on purpose. TikTok is a broadcast channel, I don’t see it as social media. Yes, people create content, but TikTok uses algorithms to push the content like a broadcaster, engagement is minimal at best.

Microsoft understands it is not about to create and leverage a consumer oriented social media platform. And it doesn’t have to. Microsoft failed in the mobile space because it was too late to the game. They learned a lesson. And adapted. Where Microsoft does hold market share is the workplace, specifically, the digital workplace. This is where they’re placing their efforts. It is brilliant.

Microsoft doesn’t need to be or develop, a consumer facing social media platform. Why bother? They already have the corner on the business market. And that is where they’re focusing. They’re making data, apps and content sharable, driving the collaborative approach to the information economy. Their closest touch on the consumer social media landscape of apps is of course, LinkedIn. But that too, has a more business focus, even if it has suffered from the tragedy of the commons of late.

Microsoft’s suite of apps and platforms feature innovative ways to connect and collaborate. People use them without even thinking “social media” yet they carry that capability in every app. They work almost seamlessly across Windows, macOS, Android, iOS and ipadOS. They touch Google Workspace, but in very subtle ways. Interoperability isn’t perfect, but it’s close enough. I prefer macOS. I’ll admit, I’ve not tried Windows 11, but prior iterations of WindowsOS just give me anxiety. Maybe Windows 11 is better. I’d like to think so.

What Microsoft has understood is that they’re extremely good when it comes to business productivity. They’ve invested heavily in UX design and UX research and it’s paying off. They lost the gambit on mobile OS, Explorer as a browser was horrid. They saw and understood how to leverage engagement in the open source world and Edge is a powerful, highly capable browser, yet built on Chromium and puts Google’s Chrome to shame. Then they started to connect everything together. Apple has tried with their suite of productivity tools and, quite honestly, Apple did a good job. But the Apple ecosystem just isn’t as big in the business world like Microsoft. But, Microsoft has made it quite easy for those of us in the Apple ecosystem to play in the Microsoft ecosystem. That too, is quite brilliant.

Microsoft understands ecosystems and platforms. And how to bring them together. Quietly, they’ve built a social media network and platform that is far more powerful than Meta (Facebook) or any other social media, consumer oriented platform. They did it quietly, with no real fanfare, minimal marketing effort and in a very subtle, but beneficial way. Meta (Facebook) tried to build a version for business. It was a dismal failure. They don’t have Microsoft’s knowledge of business productivity and processes/workflows.

You would be forgiven for thinking of Microsoft as a social media company. But they are. And far less invasive to personal privacy and data collection than Meta or Google.

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