Jan 14, 2015 · 1 minute

Facebook has introduced new mobile applications and a dedicated section of its website for a business-focused service which brings most of its existing features to the workplace. The service itself is called Facebook at Work, while the apps are simply named "Work."

Work isn't finished. Facebook tells TechCrunch that it's still working to figure out how it will price the service, how much access it will offer third-party developers, and whether it will show advertisements on the service. Thus, it might be fair to describe this as a public beta.

The service, like many of Facebook's recent products, enters a crowded market. Investors have rushed to get their money into the Slack messaging service, Microsoft spent $1.2 billion to acquire Yammer in 2012, and a number of other companies offer similar tools, including Asana, the work of Facebook co-founder Dustin Moskovitz.

It's not clear why businesses would choose to use Work instead of any of these other products. As I explained when the Financial Times reported on the service in November:

Slack has become so popular at least partly because it doesn’t compete with most of its users. Most tech companies aren’t developing a workplace-specific social network, so they can treat Slack as an interesting product without worrying about feeding information to a competitor.

Facebook doesn’t have that luxury. It competes with countless companies in several markets, from consumer services to infrastructure technologies and beyond. A tech company using Facebook at Work would be like Pando relying on a product developed by TechCrunch. But at least some companies have found use for Work -- Facebook claims that some have already used the service, and divisions within Facebook have been using it for several years. (That could mean less that they're fond of the service and more that this is the rule.)

Facebook is focusing on companies with at least 100 employees for its initial limited rollout. Eventually the company plans to support smaller businesses, at which point it will likely reveal whether it's going to monetize by displaying advertisements or via subscriptions. Until then, prepare to poke your cubicle mate.