Redmond is making a play for the enterprise collaboration tools sector with the announcement yesterday of the global release of its Microsoft Teams chat platform for all Office 365 users. The new tool is now live by default for all users with a Business Essentials, Business Premium, or Enterprise plan.
"Microsoft Teams is a digital workspace built on four core promises: chat for today's teams, a hub for teamwork, customization options and security teams trust," Kirk Koenigsbauer, Microsoft’s corporate vice president for the Office team, said in a blog post yesterday. The workspace has been in preview since November, with more than 50,000 organizations already using it, the company said.
Alternative to Slack
Microsoft is positioning Teams as an alternative to the popular Slack platform, which allows coworkers to collaborate via chat in a similar way. The company said it has already added several new features to Teams since the preview, including audio calling from mobile devices. It also currently supports video calling on Android devices, with support coming to iOS and Windows phones in the future.
The tech giant has also added a variety of features in response to direct customer feedback, such as the ability to email a channel, including attachments, send messages with markdown-based formatting and receive notifications about all posts in a channel.
Other features that have been recently added include support for open, public teams within an organization, scheduling capabilities such as free/busy calendar availability for team members, event recurrence and easier transitions from chat to voice and video.
Office 365 and Third-Party Integration
But the big selling point for Teams is its integration with Microsoft's other Office 365 applications, such as Word, Excel, PowerPoint, OneNote and Power BI, according to the company.
Microsoft is also selling Teams on the strength of its ecosystem of third-party integrations. More than 150 integrations are either already available or have been announced, including bots from hipmunk, Growbot, and ModuleQ. Staff members will be able to use the bots to automate some of their tasks within conversations.
"We're also partnering with SAP and Trello to build new integrations," Koenigsbauer said. "SAP SuccessFactors will help employees and managers track goals and performance as part of the way they work in Microsoft Teams every day. Trello will empower teams to easily get projects done with boards, lists and cards right within Microsoft Teams."
Microsoft hopes the strength of its enterprise cloud offering, with features such as advanced security and compliance capabilities, will be another big selling point for the Teams app. Like the company’s other cloud-delivered services, Teams supports global standards such as SOC 1, SOC 2, EU Model Clauses, ISO27001 and HIPAA.
It also supports audit log search, eDiscovery, and legal hold for channels, chats, and files, as well as mobile application management. "These security and compliance capabilities are critical for enterprise customers," Koenigsbauer said.