Microsoft has acquired Yammer for $1.2 billion, the companies announced Monday, June. 25. The deal had been an open secret for more than a week.

Yammer is a product that allows companies and enterprises to make internal social networks for employees. Or as PC World put it well, “Yammer is like Facebook, but a Facebook that’s segregated from the rest of the Internet, and that provides monitoring and controls for IT admins to be able to enforce policies and protect information.”

Launched in 2008, Yammer says it has approximately 5 million corporate users and its service is found in 85 percent of Fortune 500 companies. Some governments in the U.S., UK and Australia use the platform for employee-to-employee communication, although adoption in the public sector isn’t thought to be widespread.

But one way or another, more governments might come aboard because of Microsoft’s big purchase. Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer and other company executives made clear Monday that Yammer’s social networking features would be integrated into Microsoft core products like SharePoint, Office and Dynamics — platforms widely used by government customers today.

In fact, this Yammer-SharePoint marriage had already began to occur as far back as two years ago, with Yammer SharePoint Webparts, which allowed users to access their Yammer feed with SharePoint.

During a phone conference shortly after the acquisition’s announcement, Microsoft executives said it was too soon to talk specifics about how Yammer would be utilized within Microsoft’s SharePoint collaboration software. Microsoft Office Division President Kurt DelBene did say there are “natural synergies” between Yammer and SharePoint, and that Microsoft is investing heavily to make SharePoint a rich offering within Office 365, the cloud-based version of Microsoft’s omnipresent productivity suite.

Analysts interviewed by The Seattle Times — the hometown newspaper of record for all matters Microsoft — called the acquisition of Yammer’s social tools “a good defensive move” that also could help remedy some of SharePoint’s existing but “cumbersome” social features.

Microsoft could be charting a similar hands-off course for Yammer as it did for Skype, the popular video chat and videoconferencing company it bought for $8.5 billion last year.

Yammer will continue to operate from its San Francisco headquarters, not at the Microsoft campus in Redmond, Wash. Yammer also will continue a standalone service, according to a joint announcement from the two companies.

Before the acquisition was made official, Brian Proffitt of ReadWriteWeb wrote that “the inclusion of Yammer’s social media tools within SharePoint — and other Microsoft products (including the flagship Microsoft Office productivity suite) — would deliver social capabilities that customers demand and help Microsoft retain SharePoint’s market share. It could also help Office compete against more sharing-oriented competitors like Google Docs.

Presumably then, if Proffitt’s theory is correct, Microsoft might also be trying to protect its share of the government market.

Matt Williams Matt Williams  |  Contributing Writer

Matt Williams was previously the news editor of Govtech.com, and is now a contributor to Government Technology and Public CIO magazines.