Microsoft has launched Microsoft Teams, its enterprise collaboration tool that has been heavily billed as its answer to Slack.
The new Microsoft app, slotting into the Office 365 portfolio alongside other applications such as Yammer, Skype and Outlook, will allow users to communicate and collaborate on documents.
The product is described as a chat-based workspace, bringing together online chat, a collaboration hub, customisation options and security.
It integrates with other Office 365 programmes such as Skype, as well as Office apps such as Word and Excel.
CEO Satya Nadella unveiled the product at a Microsoft event in New York on 2 November, although the announcement had been expected for some time.
“It’s a place where people can come together in a digital forum to have conversations, work on content, create work plans, integrated all within one unified experience, designed to facilitate real-time conversations and collaboration while maintaining and building up that institutional knowledge of a team,” Nadella said.
Microsoft Teams is available to preview in 181 countries and 18 languages to commercial customers with Office 365 Enterprise or Business plans.
General availability is expected in the first quarter of 2017.
“Just like Outlook brought together email, contacts and calendar into this one user experience scaffolding that changed how we work, Microsoft Teams will bring together chats, meetings, planner, power BI and a host of other extensions and applciations to help teams get work done,” said Nadella.
enterprise collaboration market.Slack, which has offered a similar tool for some time, posted an open letter to Microsoft on its blog, saying it was “genuinely excited to have some competition” and offering the software company some “friendly advice”.
The letter broke down into four pieces of advice, saying that it’s not the features of the tool that matter, that an open platform is essential and emphasising the need to focus on the customer.
Microsoft considered purchasing Slack for $8 billion, according to TechCrunch. However, the acquisition efforts within Microsoft, led by EVP of applications and services Qi Lu, collapsed after Bill Gates and CEO Satya Nadella rejected the idea.