Watch out Slack? Workplace chat app Microsoft Teams launches globally to Office 365 customers
Microsoft Teams has officially launched as the company seeks to mount a challenge to workplace communication app Slack, which has rapidly established itself as an enterprise tool in recent years.
Like Slack, the Microsoft Teams tool aims to help workers chat and share information with their enterprise colleagues, and is tightly integrated with the familiar Office applications.
The chat-based workspace for Office 365 is now generally available in 181 markets and in 19 language around the world.
Microsoft actually previewed the tool last November and said at the time that it intended to launch it in the first quarter of 2017.
Since that Preview launch last November, more than 50,000 organisations have started using Microsoft Teams, with big name such as Accenture, Deloitte, Expedia, Sage, and Three UK implementing the workplace chat tool.
“We’ve also introduced more than 100 new features to deliver ongoing innovation and address top customer requests,” Microsoft blogged, noting that Office 365 has more than 85 million active users worldwide.
“Office 365 is designed to meet the unique workstyle of every group with purpose-built, integrated applications: Outlook for enterprise-grade email; SharePoint for intelligent content management; Yammer for networking across the organisation; Skype for Business as the backbone for enterprise voice and video; and now, Microsoft Teams, the new chat-based workspace in Office 365,” wrote Redmond.
Among the new features that Microsoft has delivered since the Preview is audio calling from mobile devices, plus video on Android (which is coming shortly to iOS and Windows Phone).
Redmond also said that it had “addressed numerous customer requests, adding the ability to email a channel, including attachments, send messages with markdown-based formatting, and receive notifications about all posts in a channel.”
Conversations can also be moved from email into Microsoft Teams, along with rich formatting and attachments.
And Microsoft Teams is customisable depending upon the workspace requirements, and comes with rigorous security protocols support for including SOC 1, SOC 2, EU Model Clauses, ISO27001 and HIPAA.
There is also support for audit log search, eDiscovery and legal hold for channels, chats and files as well as mobile application management with Microsoft Intune.
“These security and compliance capabilities are critical for enterprise customers, but our responsibility at Microsoft goes beyond this,” wrote the software giant. “We’re working to ensure every team member can participate, with new accessibility features, including support for screen readers, high contrast and keyboard-only navigation. This will enable Microsoft Teams to be more inclusive and tap into the collective brainpower and potential of every person.”
Microsoft of course will be challenging an established player in the form of Canada-based Slack, which already has 4 million active users.
Another potential rival is Facebook At Work, which brings an enterprise version of the social network to the business world.
Facebook has been developing the work version of its social network for the past two years, with testing underway in 2015, with notable customers such as the Royal Bank of Scotland where it has been well-received.
Microsoft however will be hoping that the tighten integration of Microsoft Teams within the Office 365 ecosystem will help it overtake these rivals.