Microsoft today debuted its latest product, Microsoft Teams, which is a chat-based workspace designed for Office 365 users.
Designed to compete with chat platforms like Slack and HipChat, Microsoft Teams provides a chat interface that integrates with Office 365 apps and services and other third-party services like Zendesk, Asana, Hootsuite, and Intercom.
According to Microsoft, Teams is designed to provide a "modern conversation experience" in the workplace. It supports both persistent and threaded chats, along with public and private conversations. Skype integration allows teams to quickly initiate voice and video conferences, and each digital workspace can be highly customized with emoji, stickers, GIFs, extensions, open APIs, and more.
At Microsoft, we are deeply committed to the mission of helping people and organizations achieve more--and reinventing productivity for the cloud and mobile world is core to our ambition. We built Microsoft Teams because we see both tremendous opportunity and tremendous change in how people and teams get work done.
Teams are now more agile and organizational structures more flat to keep communications and information flowing. With Microsoft Teams, we aspire to create a more open, digital environment that makes work visible, integrated and accessible--across the team--so everyone can stay in the know.
Word, Excel, PowerPoint, SharePoint, OneNote, Planner, Power BI, and Delve are built into Microsoft Teams, and it supports Microsoft's cross-application membership program, Office 365 Groups, so people can easily move from conversations to collaborating on documents.
Microsoft Teams is designed for Microsoft's enterprise customers, and it includes enterprise-level security with two-factor authentication, single sign on through Active Directory, and data encryption. Teams is available for Windows, Mac, Android, iOS, and the web.
Ahead of Microsoft's announcement, competing chat platform Slack took out a full page ad in the New York Times welcoming Microsoft to the chat space, offering some "friendly advice," and signaling that it's worried about competition from Microsoft.
In the piece that ends with a warning that "Slack is here to stay," Slack says an open platform, love, and thoughtfulness and craftsmanship are essential to a successful communication product.
One final point: Slack is here to stay. We are where work happens for millions of people around the world.
So welcome, Microsoft, to the revolution. We're glad you're going to be helping us define this new product category. We admire many of your achievements and know you'll be a worthy competitor. We're sure you're going to come up with a couple of new ideas on your own too. And we'll be right there, ready.
A preview of Microsoft Teams is available in 181 countries and 18 languages starting today for Office 365 enterprise customers (Business Essentials, Business Premium, El, E3, and E5). It will officially launch early next year.