Its good to talk. Teams app from Redmond to introduce chat-based workspace into Office 365
Microsoft has launched a new tool that aims to help workers chat and share information with their enterprise colleagues.
Microsoft is calling the new tool “Teams” and it promises to be tightly integrated with the familiar Office applications.
The Teams tool is only available in preview mode at the moment to commercial customers with Office 365 Enterprise or Business plans.
It is expected to be launched in the first quarter of next year.
Microsoft describes Teams as a chat-based workspace to enhance the collaboration capabilities in Microsoft Office 365.
“At Microsoft we aim to empower every person and organization with the technology to be more productive as individuals and in groups,” said Satya Nadella, CEO, Microsoft. “Office 365 is the broadest toolkit and platform for creation, communication and collaboration. Microsoft Teams adds a new experience to Office 365 as the chat-based workspace designed to empower the art of teams.”
The central thrust of Teams is the chat option, and team conversations are visible to the entire team by default. There is also a private chat capability, as well as a library of mojis, GIFs, custom stickers and memes to add a fun element.
It allows workers to begin voice or video meetings, and work with Office documents directly and is built on Office 365 Groups.
Teams can also be customised for differing sets of staff, as each business unit will likely have different needs and requirements from other work-place teams. Channels can therefore be created to help organise conversations by topic.
A Tabs feature will allow a particular channel to have access to frequently used documents and applications.
As this is primarily a business tool, Microsoft has not forgotten the security and compliance aspect. Therefore data is encrypted at all times and is “covered by a transparent operational model with no standing access to customer data.”
Additionally, multifactor authentication provides enhanced identity protection to help ensure data stays safe within the team. Microsoft Teams will also support key compliance and data protection standards.
A video of Teams in action is available here.
“We’ve designed Office 365 to meet the unique needs of every group, with purpose-built applications – like Outlook, SharePoint and Yammer – that all naturally work together. And now with Microsoft Teams, Office 365 accommodates all workstyles,” said Kirk Koenigsbauer, corporate VP of Office.
There is little doubt that Microsoft has positioned Teams as a direct competitor to the workplace communication app Slack. That year old statup is now worth £2.7 billion and as of April this year, already had 2.7 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.
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