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Microsoft Touts Progress Of Teams Chat App

Tom Jowitt is a leading British tech freelance and long standing contributor to TechWeek Europe

Slack now has some competition, Microsoft claims, as usage of its enterprise comms app Teams nearly doubles

Microsoft has boasted of an impressive rise in the number of organisations using its Teams messaging, collaboration and communications tool.

Microsoft Teams was officially launched in March last year as Redmond to mount a challenge to workplace communication app Slack, which has rapidly established itself as an enterprise tool in recent years.

But now a year after its initial launch Microsoft has unveiled some new Teams features, including integration with Cortana and inline message translation.

First birthday

In a blog post Microsoft also announced a significant rise in the the number of businesses using Teams. At launch Teams was used by 50,000 organisations, and in September this had risen to 125,000.

But now over 200,000 businesses are currently using Teams, including the likes of General Motors, A.P. Moller–Maersk, and Nascar.

“Over the last year, Teams has evolved to become the ultimate hub for teamwork,” said Redmond. “Built on the strength and scale of Office 365 with over 120 million users, Teams delivers chat-based collaboration, meetings, calling, and soon, full enterprise voice features.”

Microsoft is also adding a number of new features during the year.

First off is cloud recording, which will provide “one-click meeting recordings with automatic transcription and timecoding, enabling all team members the ability to read captions, search within the conversation, and playback all or part of the meeting.” Microsoft said it would include facial recognition in the future, so particular remarks can be attributed to the right person.

But perhaps of the more interesting new additions will the addition of inline message translation. Essentially, this will allow people who speak different languages to fluidly communicate with one another by translating posts in channels and chat.

And despite market concern at Cortana’s future, Microsoft said it will add Cortana voice interactions for Teams-enabled devices. This will allow a person to “to easily make a call, join a meeting, or add other people to a meeting in Teams using spoken, natural language.”

Another new feature will be the ability to blur a background during video calls, so that other meeting attendees will focus on the person speaking, and not might be happen in the office behind them.

The last two additions will be proximity detection for Teams Meetings, to make it easier for people to discover and add a nearby and available Skype Room System to any meeting. The last addition is mobile sharing in meetings, so meeting attendees can share a live video stream, photos, or the screen from their mobile device.

Slack challenge

Microsoft of course will be challenging an established player in the form of Canada-based Slack, which already has 6 million daily active users and 9 million weekly 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 a number of years now, after testing got underway in 2015, with notable customers such as the Royal Bank of Scotland.

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