Everything You Need To Know About Microsoft Teams

In September, we reported that Microsoft was creating a competitor to work messenger app Slack. Now it has officially lifted the curtains on the project. The new collaboration offering is called Microsoft Teams and is now available in public preview. IT administrators working in organisations with certain types of Office 365 licences can try it out now and there’s even a Developer Preview program that lets developers get started on building apps for Teams. Here are all the details for IT administrators, developers and would-be users.

You can think of Microsoft Teams as a workplace chat app with extras. The extras we’ll get into later.

Teams provides a space for teams within companies to discuss and collaborate on projects in a forum-like environment. Conversations are threaded so that replies to a message is displayed directly below it — much like Facebook status comments. This makes it easier to keep track of conversations. Users have the option to go on and start their own private discussions.

But perhaps the biggest drawcard for organisations is the fact that Teams is integrated with Microsoft’s other productivity and communication tools, all neatly bundled together in Office 365. Microsoft has over 85 million active monthly users for Office 365 and making the service part of the cloud productivity suite will no doubt drive the adoption of Teams.

Through Teams, you can start a video or voice conversation using Skype, which is deeply integrated. Word, Excel, PowerPoint, SharePoint, OneNote, Planner, Power BI and Delve are all built into Microsoft Teams so groups can collaborate on documents and files. Microsoft also wants to make Teams customisable so it has included Tabs that will let users access frequently used documents and cloud services from Microsoft as well as from third-party providers.

Teams is available on desktop and mobile operating systems including Windows, Mac, Android, iOS and web platforms. The public preview is available now to eligible customers and general availability is expected in early 2017.

What IT Administrators Need To Know

In terms of security with Teams, Micrsoft said that the service supports key compliance standards. Teams also enforces two-factor authentication, single sign on through Active Directory and encryption of data in transit and at rest.

If your organisation is already an Office 365 commercial customer, you may be able to try out Microsoft Teams now. The service is available for the following Office 365 plans:

  • Business Essentials
  • Business Premium
  • Enterprise E1, E3 and
  • E4 purchased prior to its retirement

If you want to turn on teams, you will need to visit the Office 365 admin centre and click Settings > Services & Add Ins > Microsoft Teams.

For Developers

As part of today’s announcement for Teams, Microsoft has also launched the developer program for the new offering. The Microsoft Teams Developer Preview lets developers to get started on building apps for the service.

If you’re a developer, you can make branded Tabs for your apps so that users can easily access and test your creations. You can also write Bots that can you can interact with users in Teams chat. Big players like Zendesk, Asana and Hootsuite have already committed to making third-party apps for Teams. You can find out more and join the program over at the official website.

Teams also wants to help developers with the software development process, which is why it is integrated with Visual Studio Team Services as well to help teams track Agile and development work. Users will get alerts for work items, pull requests, commits, and builds using the Connectors within Microsoft Teams. Each Connector event is its own conversation, allowing users to be notified of events they care about and discuss them with their team.

Team Services Kanban boards integration with Microsoft Teams will start from November 9. This will allow team to track and create new work items without leaving their team’s channel.

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