Microsoft is building a Slack competitor, and calling it ‘Skype Teams’

Microsoft has been quite busy modernizing its enterprise and business-oriented products lately. The recent LinkedIn purchase was part of this, and while Microsoft did attempt to buy Slack for 8 billion$, it appears those attempts didn’t really turn out to be very successful.

Slack has been making waves in quite a few industries – from NASA’s JPL to eBay, a whole lot of big companies and institutions have started using it. While the basic premise of Slack is not something new – all it is offering is a way to improve communication within a team – the way it has built its interface and feature set, is quite unique.

According to MSPowerUser, Microsoft is now building a Slack competitor with the established Skype branding, as ‘Skype Teams’.

Skype Teams

Skype Teams and Slack do not seem to be very different. Much like Slack, Skype Teams will offer members of a team to build channels for different groups within the team, allowing teams to segregate communication to the relevant groups. It will also allow team members to send direct messages to each other.

It’s not just a clone, Skype Teams also offers its own unique set of features as well. Skype is obviously known for its voice and video calling, so that is going to be built into Skype Teams – both for teams, as well as privately.

This is where Slack will have to compete. Skype Teams will also allow teams to set up scheduled meetings – on the contrary, Slack has been trying to reduce the number of meetings that teams require and proudly showcases the statistics for this in their promotions.

Skype Teams will also offer some other features that Slack lacks, such as threaded conversations that allow you to reply to specific messages in a channel and build a thread specifically for it – much like Facebook comments.

Integration with other services

Slack doesn’t just offer a product though – they have managed to build a whole ecosystem of applications that link up with Slack and offer 3rd party services on top of Slack. Automated bots help organize and add value to teams on Slack – but Skype has been busy building its own Bot Framework for a few months now, which would allow for some deep 3rd party integration.

Skype Teams The Fun Picker

While the ecosystem is building, there would be a lack of options for 3rd party services, which might prove to be a deal-breaker for many teams, so this is a place where Microsoft can offer integration with many of its own products such as Office 365 and OneDrive.

These features might prove to be very valuable to teams who depend on other Microsoft services. In fact, Microsoft could even add Skype Teams integration to Microsoft Flow – it’s own IFTTT competitor.

Microsoft isn’t all about work, they are also building a few fun things as well, such as the aptly named ‘Fun Picker’ which will allow members to post GIFs from Giphy, emojis, memes, and more. After all, a little bit of fun is necessary for productivity.

It doesn’t end there

Microsoft clearly wants to push more of their enterprise products into the modern workflow – Skype Teams fills a gap that has long been present in Microsoft’s offerings. Skype Teams looks familiar to anyone who has used Slack for more than 5 minutes – but strong integration with other Microsoft products such as Office 365 and OneDrive is what will set it apart.

Microsoft is also working on making sure Skype Teams is available on all platforms by offering not only a web version, apps for Windows, Android, and iOS devices as well.

While all of this is still being tested internally at Microsoft according to MSPowerUser, there is no clear timeline for a public launch of Skype Teams. Microsoft might end up releasing it first to the Office 365 subscribers.

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