Microsoft unveiled Microsoft Teams at an event in New York earlier this month. This is an Office 365 component that adds a group chat tool to the pre existing office suite.
Teams is a competitor to Slack. This web-based software pulls together messaging, archived content and search capabilities.
Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella described it as a “chat-based workspace” – so Teams combines informal chatting and productive collaboration. The app combines the online Office applications, Skype, Exchange servers, Azure, security and more, all in one piece of software.
Teams or Slack?
When viewing demos or screenshots of Microsoft Teams, you could be forgiven for confusing it with a new version of Slack. The user interfaces look extremely similar, and it uses the same general “channels” and individual/small group chat design language.
Teams also incorporates plenty of other familiar Slack features. This includes in-line animated GIFs and assistant bots, including one (“WhoBot”) that’s designed to find individuals in your organisation based on their specialties or assignments.
A common complaint among Slack users is the app’s dearth of email-style threaded conversations. Teams will in fact, support threaded conversations on day one. Threading will make it easier for users to visually follow the flow of a conversation. Without it, messages simply appear on the screen as they are typed by each party.
Free You Say?
Well, you can’t access it from any Office 365 subscription, only certain ones. So Teams isn’t exactly free, but if your organisation is already on one of these license plans then it won’t cost any extra; Business Essentials, Business Premium, Enterprise E1, E3, E5 and E4 (for those who purchased the plan before it was retired). Like any Office application though, it’ll be up to your company’s IT department whether or not to deploy it to users in the organisation, so it’s best to chat with them and work something out.
Teams won’t be accessible if you’ve purchased a one time Microsoft Office software download or you’re an individual or family subscriber to Office 365. The new software aims itself at the enterprise/business market. This makes it stand out more from Slack, which is available to any ad hoc group who wants to try it.
Microsoft has, or will have, apps for Windows 10, Mac, Android, iOS, Windows Phone and even browser-based web clients. Assuming the web client is robust and works on Chromebooks, that should cover all but a few outliers.
Teams & Third Party Plug Ins
ZenDesk (customer service software) and Asana (a popular project management tool) have already said they’ll be working to integrate their services with Teams. This is a huge opportunity for future collaborations with software providers.
Comes Out 2017 Q1. But You Can Test Drive It Now!
Microsoft is aiming for the official launch of Teams by the end of March 2017. But a preview of Teams is available now. Again though, only to enterprise customers. At the bottom of this Microsoft page, the company notes that “IT admins can turn on Microsoft Teams as part of your Office 365 plan,” and offers an instructional video.
On the same page, Microsoft also highlights a free Office 365 Business Premium trial offer, which would allow participants to use the Teams beta as well.
Here’s the introductory video for you to get a grasp on the new Microsoft Teams!
There you have it! For us, we love the concept and we are currently testing the waters as the preview has been launched. It’s the best of Yammer, Slack, Office 365, Skype… all the ways of communicating for an SME like us, in one place. And although we still have all the other choices to use, the admins have peace of mind that all the content is within the confines of their access.
We can’t wait for the launch next year to see what else there is!