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March 14, 2017

Microsoft Teams up against Slack, Google with Office 365

Will the omnipresence of Office 365 give Microsoft the upper hand against collaboration tech rivals?

By Ellie Burns

Microsoft’s self-described “engine of collaboration” has hit the market, with Microsoft Teams now available to Office 365 business customers.

The chat-based workspace has already seen impressive take-up following the release of the preview last November, 50,000 organisations jumped on the Teams bandwagon, with big names like Deloitte and Expedia rolling out the collaboration software.

“In a world where information is abundant and human time and attention remain scarce, we aspire to help people and groups of people be more productive, wherever they are,” said Satya Nadella, CEO, Microsoft.

“Office 365 is the broadest platform and universal toolkit for creation, collaboration and communication. Today we are adding a new tool to Office 365 with Microsoft Teams, a chat-based workspace designed to empower the art of teams.”

Microsoft Teams goes on general sale in an already crowded market, a market which has recently seen a series of one-upmanship announcements by rival players.

Earlier this year Slack announced Enteprise Grid, the big brother version of its normal cloud-based team collaboration tool. While Microsoft Teams boasted 50,000 companies using Teams, Slack named IBM, PayPal and Capital One as big business customers.

Google, meanwhile, made an enterprise play with Hangouts, splitting the service into the new Chat and Meet messaging services. Chat, closely resembling Slack, provides a unique dial-in number for conference calls and allows anyone to join without having to download an app or plugin by generating a shareable web address for the chat.

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All the big names in workplace collaboration all provide the basics – real-time chat, sharing of documents, etc etc.

https://youtu.be/nKU-FMzZFF0

However, Microsoft may have the enterprise edge when it comes to workplace collaboration. How many companies use Outlook? SharePoint? Word? Skype? Yammer? Well, Teams includes it all, integrating all the well known Office 365 suite of products. It is this integration with the well known suite of workplace must-haves which may prove the winning formula for Microsoft.

Not only is Microsoft providing the Office 365 stalwarts, but the tech giant has also introduced more than 100 new features to Teams since November, including: an enhanced meeting experience, with scheduling capabilities; mobile audio calling, with video calling on Android now and coming soon to iOS and Windows Phone; email integration; and new security and compliance capabilities.

Microsoft has also delivered new features to make Microsoft Teams accessible, such as support for screen readers, high contrast and keyboard-only navigation. Guest access capabilities and deeper integration with Outlook, and a richer developer platform are targeted for June of this year.

Read more: Business collaboration software: Tech for the sake of tech or vital enterprise tool?

According to Laurie Koch, vice president of global customer service at Trek Bicycle, Microsoft Teams is already streamlining the company’s work by providing assets and tasks in context: “Across Trek’s global teams, the integrated collection of Office 365 apps serves up a common toolset to collaboratively drive the business forward.

“We see Microsoft Teams as the project hub of Office 365 where everybody knows where to find the latest documents, notes and tasks, all in line with team conversations for complete context. Teams is quickly becoming a key part of Trek’s get-things-done-fast culture.”

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