Looking to build on the success of its SharePoint collaboration software, Microsoft introduced the PKS (Podcasting Kit for SharePoint), a piece of open-source software designed to let workers record and share video and audio presentations over the public Web and intranets.
Microsoft unveiled PKS through its CodePlex open-source community at the Enterprise 2.0 show, which kicked off June 9, in Boston. The program goes into full swing Tuesday morning with presentations from FedEx, Google, Socialtext and other players in the space.
Companies use podcasting technology to provide company news, conduct new employee orientations or to boost career training or e-learning.
Rob Curry, director of Microsoft SharePoint, told eWEEK Microsoft's sales organization implemented the PKS internally over the past year, accessing audio or video podcasts on PCs, Windows Mobile devices, Zunes and any other devices that play podcasts.
Consulting giant Accenture participated in the PKS pilot program along with its client BT Group to offer Web 2.0-based learning and collaboration software. Roughly 50 other enterprise customers are testing PKS through the companies TAP (Technology Adoption Program).
PKS can do quite a bit. Users are also able to connect with podcasters via integrated instant messaging programs and use a rating system, tag clouds and search functions to find podcast content. Users can also subscribe to RSS feeds to receive automatic podcast updates and play podcasts in real-time using Silverlight and progressive playback.
Future versions of PKS could include a rich Windows mobile client; a three-dimensional user interface to run on Vista; cross-OS podcasting client (in addition to Zune software); embedded video and audio capture and editing; Peer to peer media playback and downloading; Windows Live ID and Windows Live Messenger integration; and compatibility with Flash-in addition to Silverlight.
Why podcasting? Why SharePoint?
That Microsoft would add podcasting tools to a collaboration platform like SharePoint makes total sense; but what can be gained by open sourcing a tool that is already free for users who license SharePoint?
Curry said PKS is a great way for companies interested in e-learning to get started, noting that there are over 100 tools for the platform available under open-source through CodePlex.
Microsoft can certainly afford to make freeware part of SharePoint; the company has sold 100 million licenses for Office SharePoint Server 2007 for $1 billion in annual sales.
PKS comes concurrent with a flock of new partnerships Microsoft has inked with smaller startups looking to leverage the wild success of SharePoint, which offers knowledge workers social computing, blog, wiki, RSS and mashup tools along with enterprise content management and search. SharePoint competes with Lotus Notes and Domino, and Google Apps, among other tools.
Awareness, Atlassian, WorkLight, NewsGator, Leverage Software, BlueKiwi Software, Connectbeam, Telligent Systems and Tomoye, are integrating with the successful platform in some way or another.
All of these vendors, many of whom are participating in the Enterprise 2.0 show this week, are eyeing an enterprise social computing market that Forrester Research claimed will increase from $764 million in 2008 to $4.6 billion by 2013.