Last week, Microsoft announced they were releasing Microsoft Teams, a direct competitor to industry favorite Slack. The new feature will be integrated into Office and seeks to provide more collaboration tools for enterprise. But Microsoft already has Skype and Yammer, why do they need more?
The short answer is options. Microsoft Office already provides multiple ways to do things which gives users the option to choose what is best. For example, you can create a graph directly within Word, while Excel can do the same with text. PowerPoint can now integrate other documents while you can build PowerPoint slides with Word.
However, where Microsoft Teams does have strength is with Groups and persistent collaboration. While Slack is powerful and easy to use, it isn’t as fluid an experience as it could be. Microsoft Teams hopes to change all that by working with Office 365 Groups.
If you have ever used the Group function, it is about as easy as it gets. Create a Group within Office 365 and an Outlook group is created automatically. A OneNote instance is also automatically built, and a SharePoint share can also be created at the same time. All without any further input or the need to put a call into IT to put it all together.
It isn’t just about messaging though. Microsoft Teams looks to build a persistent, modern meeting place where people can drop in and out of video conferences, upload files, collaboratively create media and all sorts of cool stuff. If you have offices in different cities, this could be a real winner.
Microsoft Teams will use that power and Office integration to push it to business customers. Like Slack, the Redmond giant is also looking to integrate third-party apps and open up the API for developers.
We haven’t got our hands on Microsoft Teams yet as it is only available to preview customers. However, with a release slated for next year, we don’t have long to wait. In the meantime, Slack will be looking hard at its offering to see how it can compete with Microsoft’s market reach. While it may be the darling of Silicon Valley, there are 85 million Office customers already who will gain access to this new app. That’s a big chunk of potential market right there.
Microsoft says it plans to integrate Microsoft Teams into the existing subscription, so existing users will be able to access the app for free when released.
With its open letter to Microsoft, Slack is aware of the impending threat. However, it might come to regret the move as it doesn’t exactly smack of a professional outfit capable of working with enterprise. Exactly the market Microsoft Teams will likely come to dominate. Only time will tell which direction this fight goes!