(Not so) Crazy Microsoft Rumors: Facebook's new e-mail to feature Office Web Apps integration

It's time for another (not so) crazy Microsoft rumor. This time, BFFs Facebook and Microsoft are the target of one of my good source's tips.
Written by Mary Jo Foley, Senior Contributing Editor

As part of my job as a full-time Microsoft watcher, I get a lot of tips about Microsoft from customers, competitors, partners and even Softies themselves. However, ever since I worked for PCWeek more than 15 years ago, I had it drilled into my head that until I could get three independent sources -- none of whom was repeating something s/he heard in an echo chamber -- to corroborate a tip, I couldn't run it as a story.

These days, I see lots of single-sourced tips being posted by bloggers and journalists. More than a few of these are based on a single, anonymous source, with no further identificationto help readers decide whether a tip is likely to be true or not. No "according to a Microsoft partner who requested anonymity." No "so says a customer angry over the latest slip-up, who asked not to be identified." Not even a thinly veiled "according to a person who was not authorized to speak for Company X" (but did so anyway).

This lack of attribution gave me a maybe-not-so-crazy idea. A year or so ago, inspired by the "CrazyAppleRumors" folks, I bought the "CrazyMicrosoftRumors" domain name. I let it lapse. But I recently repurchased it. Why not put the concept to use?

I'm going to launch a series of occasional posts here on "All About Microsoft," where I take a single-sourced tip that I can't find two other independent sources to verify and run it as a "rumor." I'm not going to do this with just any old tip; I am going to pick and choose ones where I have faith in the tipster's batting average and/or believe the tip makes a lot of sense. I will clearly label these posts as "(Not so) Crazy Microsoft Rumors," so readers know exactly what they're getting.

(The first post in this series was about Microsoft possibly fielding a Zune HD2.)

If you want to send along any rumor candidates, just use the e-mail form at the bottom of my blog. All tips I receive are considered confidential, so don't worry about including your real name (if you want to do so).

Today's "rumor" has to do with the upcoming Facebook announcement on Monday, November 15. Some are guessing the invite-only event will have to do with the launch of a new Facebook's e-mail offering (known as Project Titan). Titan, according to the buzz, isn't a mere revamp of the current Facebook direct messaging capability; it will be a new full-featured Web mail product like Gmail, Hotmail, etc.

I have a source close to Microsoft who said the Facebook November 15 event will, indeed, be focused on Facebook's new e-mail product. So what makes the event potentially interesting for Microsoft, its customers and partners? Supposedly, according to my source, the new Facebook e-mail will include Office Web Apps integration.

(Office Web Apps are the Webified versions of Microsoft Word, Excel, PowerPoint and OneNote that Microsoft makes available for free to consumers and as paid add-on options for its business users.)

Microsoft already provides its own Facebook + Office Web Apps mash-up, known as Microsoft Docs. Via Docs, Office Web Apps users can share their documents via Facebook with their friends. But my source says Facebook's announcement on Monday will take things a step further by directly integrating Office Web Apps access into the new Facebook e-mail -- much like Microsoft does now with Hotmail.

In Microsoft's case, Hotmail users who don't have Office installed locally on their PCs or devices can still access Office documents via Office Web Apps integration. I'm assuming Facebook will offer the same kind of access, if my tipster's tattle is true.

"The Office team has been working on this for a while now," with Facebook, my source said.

As we know, thanks to a recent Microsoft-Facebook lovefest event, Microsoft and Facebook are BFFs (even though Microsoft has agreed to pose as the underdog in the relationship).

What do you make of all the recent Microsoft-Facebook collaboration? And would any Facebook users -- other than those who work at Microsoft and want to keep Office relevant and widely adopted -- care about Office Web Apps integration in Facebook e-mail?

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