Microsoft's new chat-based workspace and collaboration tool, Microsoft Teams, is now available for all Office 365 users. Dubbed the digital equivalent of an open plan office, it provides the functionality of a chat client with additional features, including full Office 365 integration, enterprise-level security and a host of compatible third-party apps. Here's what you need to know.
Collaboration tools and online chat have become increasingly essential in today's workforce with many members of the same team working remotely; whether it be overseas or at home. Slack is the biggest player in this space right now, but Microsoft is hoping to entice Office 365 users away with a new, fully integrated offering.
Microsoft Teams has been available in public preview since September last year with trials conducted in Australia by a range of companies including Amicus, Blackmores, Objective Corporation, Readify and RSL Queensland. From today, it's available free to all Office 365 owners with over 100 new features added.
Much like Slack, users can directly message each other and chat in different groups within a team. Microsoft Teams also boasts Threaded Conversation which allows users to instantly locate and reply to conversation threads when they receive a new message.
Other highlights include video calling, support for over 150 third-party apps (SAP, Trello, Hipmunk, Growbot, etc) and full Office 365 integration. The latter essentially makes Teams part of a complete productivity hub where workers can access all of the applications they need to do their jobs.
Here are the chief features included in the app:
- A hub for teamwork with access to Word, Excel, SharePoint, OneNote and Power BI.
- Threaded, persistent chat with team conversations, private and 1:1 chats.
- Supports for audio and video calling on mobile.
- Inbuilt mojis, stickers, GIFs, and custom memes.
- High level of customisation with access to tabs, connectors and bots from MS and third party partners.
- Hyper-scale, enterprise-grade security that supports global standards including SOC 1, SOC 2, EU Model Clauses, ISO27001 and HIPAA.
- Mobile audio calling, with video calling on Android (iOS and Windows Phone "coming soon")
- Email integration
We observed Teams in action yesterday and were impressed by the tool's intuitive UI and general versatility. However, there's one main stumbling block to success: people really, really love Slack. Indeed, it is frequently cited as the #1 productivity tool by our Elevator Pitch and How I Work participants.
According to Sharon Schoenborn, Office business group lead for Microsoft Australia, the tool's points of differentiation - chiefly Office integration and advanced security compliance - will help to drive adoption among Australian SMBs that currently use Slack.
Don't have Office 365? You can still try Teams for yourself by signing up for a free trial.
We're keen to hear what you all think about Microsoft Teams: is it enough to wean you off your chat client of choice or too little, too late? Have at it in the comments!
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.