Microsoft keeps making boring software look really attractive. Earlier this year the software giant put out sizzle videos for SharePoint and Windows Terminal, which were highly produced and looked like the type of video you’d see for a new Surface device. At Microsoft’s Ignite conference last week, the company quietly released three new sizzle videos for Yammer, Tasks, and the Fluid Framework. All three follow the same sizzle approach as the SharePoint video from earlier this year, seeking to turn what is typically boring software into something much more desirable.
Yammer is used by companies as a private social networking service, and Microsoft is overhauling it with a new design that’s more integrated with Teams, SharePoint, and Outlook. To celebrate this new design, Microsoft’s sizzle video includes reams of paper for conversations, tiny buttons that represent avatars, and a focus on dark mode options. It makes Yammer seem fun to use, instead of the boring corporate social network that it really is. There’s something very satisfying about hearing reams of virtual paper fold together and watching pops of color everywhere.
Microsoft’s tasks video is very similar. It starts with a button that bubbles into a splash of color, with glass-like tasks that shimmer onto a Surface Studio display. Microsoft makes use of Surface hardware throughout these sizzle videos, which helps to make them look even more sleek and appealing.
While the first two sizzle videos are about software we’re already familiar with, Microsoft’s final one ventures into the future and slightly misses the beat. Fluid Framework is a big push by Microsoft to power the future of collaborative experiences for Office on the web. Fluid is also designed to be a new componentized document model that AI and other services can plug into.
Microsoft’s video tries to explain this with building blocks and fancy glass objects, but if you didn’t already know about Fluid Framework then this attractive video doesn’t do much to explain it. Thankfully, Microsoft did explain it fully in an interview with The Verge recently. “It takes the concept of what used to be a document and blows it up and replaces it with a big cloud address in the sky,” revealed Jared Spataro, head of Microsoft 365. “It allows you, at that cloud address, to place different content components so everything from written word to tables, to visualizations like graphs all together in one place.”
These videos, some of which are produced by design agency Tendril, are clearly a new trend for Microsoft, and we’ll likely see far more of them in the future. If these continue, I’m going to have to force myself to use the new Yammer, SharePoint, and other mundane software to find out if the new designs are really as compelling as these videos make them out to be.
Update, November 11th 6:40AM ET: Article updated to include details of the design agency responsible for Microsoft’s videos.