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November 3, 2016

Microsoft Unveils Slack Competitor With Teams Chat and Collaboration App

Microsoft has debuted a chat app for the enterprise sector in a bid to compete with team messaging app Slack.

The new chat-based Teams app has been fashioned to work with Microsoft’s suite of cloud-based Office products as well as with Skype.

The app can be used by a company to enable different groups or departments to chat and collaborate online in real time.

“At Microsoft we aim to empower every person and organization with the technology to be more productive as individuals and in groups,” said Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella. “Office 365 is the broadest toolkit and platform for creation, communication and collaboration. Microsoft Teams adds a new experience to Office 365 as the chat-based workspace designed to empower the art of teams.”

Microsoft Teams has two main functions: chat and a hub for collaboration. It comes with the ability to customize the experience from team-to-team and offers advanced security.

microsoft-teamsIt breaks down like this:

  • Chat — Via a threaded chat format, team conversations are visible to the entire team by default, although private chat capabilities can be selected as well. A library of emojis, GIFs, custom stickers and memes are available for use.
  • A hub for teamwork — Users can start voice and video meetings, as well as work with Microsoft Office documents, directly within the Microsoft Teams experience. The Microsoft Graph, meanwhile, “enables intelligence to help with information relevance, discovery and sharing,” the company said, adding that users can easily move from one collaboration tool to another, while still preserving their sense of context and sharing with others.
  • Customizable —Users can customize their Teams experience to meet their specific needs. For instance, team members can create channels to organize conversations by topic. They can also customize channels with Tabs, a feature that offers quick access to frequently used documents and applications. Tabs can be created for Office 365 services like OneNote, SharePoint and Planner as well as for third-party solutions, such as Zendesk and Asana. “Microsoft Teams supports the same Connector model as Exchange to bring notifications and updates from third-party services, such as Twitter or GitHub available Wednesday, directly into the experience,” the company said. “In addition, it supports the Microsoft Bot Framework to bring intelligent first- and third-party services into the team environment. The preview of the Microsoft Teams Developer Preview, also announced today, gives developers the opportunity to start building integrations with Microsoft Teams right away.”
  • Security — Microsoft Teams offers the same security and compliance capabilities provided by the Microsoft Cloud. Data is always encrypted and multi-factor authentication provides enhanced identity protection.

Microsoft Teams is available in preview in 181 countries and in 18 languages to commercial customers with Office 365 Enterprise or Business plans. General availability is planned for the first quarter of 2017.


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Jennifer Cowan is the Managing Editor for SiteProNews.

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