After several weeks of leaked screenshots and rumors, Microsoft finally announced Microsoft Teams at the Office event in Manhattan. Microsoft Teams is meant for businesses that are already knee-deep in Microsoft’s ecosystem with Office 365.
Teams is supposed to be a Slack competitor – it offers everything that Slack does, but there’s more. Microsoft has a massive ecosystem to leverage, and enterprise already uses a ton of Microsoft services – Teams taps into this, and integrates deeply with the Office suite and Skype to make communication and collaboration seamless across Microsoft products.
As an idea, Microsoft Teams isn’t anything new – communication platforms like this have existed for more than a decade and have always tried to “kill email” unsuccessfully. Google Wave – which wasn’t advertised as an enterprise product anyway – attempted to kill the email as well.
Slack, itself, has been unable to kill email, but it has managed to reduce dependence on it – the point of these services isn’t to kill electronic letters, but to be a faster and more efficient substitute for fast-paced communication.
Slack – today – has four million daily active users, while Microsoft Teams is quite literally mirroring the idea of Slack; the integration with services such as OneDrive, Outlook, Skype and the rest of Office suite is what Microsoft is hoping will sell it.
There will, however, still be a market for Slack – not every business uses Office 365, and some smaller businesses would rather use Slack’s free tier. Microsoft Teams is also limited to your business or organization – this limitation might be a problem while collaborating with vendors and consultants outside of your business.
Microsoft – by restricting Teams to Office 365 subscribers – is not trying to take users away from Slack. Instead, it’s supposed to make Office 365 an even more compelling offering – you get everything that you already do, and it now includes a collaboration platform that integrates with everything else.
Microsoft is launching Teams as a Preview in 181 countries and 18 different languages around the world starting from November 2nd. It is included in all existing Office 365 enterprise and business subscriptions and is only a toggle away for Office 365 administrators.
Microsoft plans on bringing Teams to General Availability status by the first quarter of CY2017.