At the Politics Online Conference today, Microsoft announced two new offerings, TownHall, a new “online engagement program” that politicians and others can use to “drive rich discussion around top interests and concerns”, and Campaign Ready, “a collection of Microsoft products and services that can be configured to meet many of the day-to-day needs for running a political or special interest campaign”.
TownHall will be available later today via a free download on MSDN, and will be accessible via a number of platforms, according to an email describing the service:
For background, just as a traditional town hall brings communities together in the physical world, Microsoft TownHall replicates that experience online. TownHall is cloud-based and hosted on Windows Azure, and it provides an easy way for folks to ask and answer questions, provide input, and participate in community discussions while on a PC, a phone or a tablet. Specialized applications for BlackBerry, iPhone, iPad and soon Windows Phone 7 devices will be made available over the coming months.
CampaignReady is a collection of services, including advertising from Bing, TownHall, free Microsoft Office Templates, and online fee based services to help campaigns (political or otherwise) “identify and engage citizens on the Web as part of their campaign efforts”, according to a post on Microsoft on the Issues.
Even if you’re not preparing to run for office, TownHall and CampaignReady, built on Azure and providing cross platform engagement, including via the iPad, etc., are an interesting glimpse into what Microsoft hopes to accomplish with Azure and its online services.
Introducing TownHall – the Azure Team Blog