Microsoft Teams Enters Preview

Posted on November 2, 2016 by Paul Thurrott in Office 365 with 26 Comments

Microsoft’s long-awaited Slack alternative is finally here: The software giant announced the preview version of Microsoft Teams today at an event in New York.

As you may know, Thurrott.com’s Brad Sams has been the primary source of pre-release information about Microsoft Teams, which was originally going to be called Skype Teams. Brad is in New York at the announcement today, where I assume Microsoft will present him with a medal of some kind, so here’s a quick overview of this new offering.

(Brad’s write-up is on Petri.com, which makes sense since Microsoft Teams is a business offering.)

Microsoft describes its Teams offering as a “new chat-based workspace.” It will be bundled with the commercial versions of Office 365, as you might expect, and it provides a virtual collaboration experience, similar to chat or IRC apps, where team members can interact.

“Microsoft Teams supports not only persistent but also threaded chats to keep everyone engaged,” Microsoft’s Kirk Koenigsbauer explains. “Team conversations are, by default, visible to the entire team, but there is of course the ability for private discussions. Skype is deeply integrated, so teams can participate in voice and video conferences. And everyone can add personality to their digital workspace with emojis, stickers, GIFs and custom memes to make it their own.”

As Koenigsbauer describes it, Teams also provides a hub for teamwork and it integrates with a wide range of Office 365 apps and services, including Word, Excel, PowerPoint, SharePoint, OneNote, Planner, Power BI and Delve.

Teams is also heavily customizable so that teams can personalize their workspaces. This capability will be extended when Teams is generally available with extensibility and open APIs, and Microsoft has already signed up over 150 partners, including Zendesk, Asana, Hootsuite and Intercom.. And because Microsoft Teams shares the same Connector model as Exchange, it can get notifications and updates from third-party services like Twitter and GitHub, Microsoft says.

Lastly, Teams benefits from the security controls one should expect of a managed business service. All communications are encrypted at all times, Microsoft says, and Microsoft never has access to your corporate data. “Microsoft Teams will support key compliance standards including EU Model Clauses, ISO 27001, SOC 2, HIPAA and more,” Koenigsbauer writes. “And, as customers would expect, Microsoft Teams is served out of our hyper-scale global network of data centers, automatically provisioned within Office 365 and managed centrally, just as any other Office 365 service.”

The Microsoft Teams Preview is now in 181 countries and in 18 languages to commercial customers with Office 365 Enterprise or Business plans, Microsoft says. General availability is expected in the first quarter of 2017.

 

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17 Comments
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  1. 1 | Reply
    lcars Alpha Member #445 - 4 weeks ago

    My company is already using Office 365 and Skype for Business. I just flipped this on for us and now my team of mobile devs are using it. It's pretty amazing!

  2. 1 | Reply
    stevenmci Alpha Member #1656 - 4 weeks ago

    FWIW, I just checked our Education tenant and it's available there as well. So not just Enterprise or Business tenants 😀

    1. 0 | Reply
      jr.flynn Alpha Member #424 - 4 weeks ago
      In reply to stevenmci:

      I can't find information anywhere telling me when this will be available on O365 Government Community Cloud (GCC). GCC typically gets features a few months after the public instance but it usually varies by update or release and as I said I've seen nothing yet.

    2. 0 | Reply
      JCerna Alpha Member #527 - 4 weeks ago
      In reply to stevenmci:I asked paul to confrim but this is great news.

       

    3. 0 | Reply
      stevenmci Alpha Member #1656 - 4 weeks ago
      In reply to JCerna:

      Hmm, I might have been premature. Teams is listed under Settings > Services & addi-ns and the controls are all there. I switched it "On" for the tenant but the app hasn't shown up yet :(

    4. 0 | Reply
      JCerna Alpha Member #527 - 4 weeks ago
      In reply to stevenmci:

      Thanks for update I am not the admin for the EDU account I use so Will ask our admin to see if he will enable it. I did on my personal business 365 account and I got the same results as you so maybe it takes time for them to manually turn it on or maybe they are doing it in waves. Keeping fingers crossed.

  3. 1 | Reply
    awright18 Alpha Member #405 - 4 weeks ago

    Time to convince my company who relies on MS technologies to move towards office 365.  I really wish this wasn't tied to that, but since it is. I guess that's the only option. 

  4. 0 | Reply
    JCerna Alpha Member #527 - 4 weeks ago

    Paul or Brad can you guys ask if EDU will also get this in the near future, pretty please.

  5. 0 | Reply
    albatronas - 4 weeks ago

    At my work we are about 40 people using slack for getting things done quick without issues. That is very good if you see that we can get the work done and be productive without any cost. The good thing for slack is that any user can create a team very simple and start. I still don't understand why they give it only to office 365 users instead on everyone. I am trying to get the business strategy here. Why don't you give your product to more user and have the office 365 user premium. Why a small team like me should see that as opportunity to switch that? I am not sure that the target is that taking people from slack to switch to Microsoft teams. Any thoughts?

  6. 0 | Reply
    secretlyclever Alpha Member #2525 - 4 weeks ago

    My work is an office 365 customer, however we use slack almost exclusively for persistent team chat (channels) and private conversations. Slack works great for these items, including mobile client access.

    Now that Microsoft has a solution for those two needs, we will probably drop Slack. 

    We don't pay for slack, and the free tier has limitations on history, which I hope Teams does not. 

  7. 0 | Reply
    joechang Alpha Member #1869 - 4 weeks ago

    The reason why Slack is popular with startups and small teams is the free plan; startups usually have very little money to spend before funding, and small teams can't be bothered dealing with getting management approval. Then as with other services using this model, is that once they're used to it and depend on it, but need the extra features - they just end up paying for it. Also, at least for the startup people, they use Google services, and have no need for O365. I wouldn't be surprised if small teams within a company also opt for simple Google web apps, even if the company uses O365. So I don't think they're actually targeting the same market, even if they think they are.

  8. 0 | Reply
    jr.flynn Alpha Member #424 - 4 weeks ago

    I understand why they felt the need to make this, Slack (for reasons not understood by me) has garnered a large following. Other than a change in workflow I fail to see what this provides that existing users of Outlook, SharePoint, OneDrive and Skype for Business don't have. If my customers don't understand how to use those tools to be more productive how are they going to know how to use this one?

    Edit: Good call on dropping the Skype branding as I don't think it would have been anything but a reminder of how bad Skype is at times.

    1. 2 | Reply
      Bart Alpha Member #117 - 4 weeks ago
      In reply to jr.flynn:

      I think the best way to look at this, is what Nadella said. MS Teams will change the way we work, much like Outlook did when it launched.

      Having "silo'd" applications, just doesn't cut it anymore

    2. 1 | Reply
      iPetr Alpha Member #400 - 4 weeks ago
      In reply to jr.flynn:

      I went here to write my comment, but this basically says it for me. Teams is just another MS tool for communication. In our company we now have Skype, email, SharePoint and Yammer. This will not replace them, it is just another option to use. 

      I do not understand why Slack is as hyped-up, but it will remain that cool tool, that smaller companies use because of its free tier and hype...

    3. 1 | Reply
      awright18 Alpha Member #405 - 4 weeks ago
      In reply to iPetr:

      I think each of the tools you mentioned have distinct communication protocols, or at least should.  Skype is typically used for 1 on 1 communication, typically through text, although could be video/audio, and of course can support groups, but I think the most typical scenario is 1 on 1 text.  Email (which is probably the worst IMHO) is about disconnected sharing of information. I prefer it when its used for a one way notification type system of for messages of low importance.  Too much email means people stop reading email.  SharePoint was originally intended as a document store.  A place where office documents could live and be collaborated on in a disconnected fashion.  I'm not 100% sure what Yammer is meant for maybe like a micro blog of sorts to publish interesting facts to large groups of people (just guessing).  But Slack, and now MS Teams is meant for "Teams" usually these are small groups of people that work closely together.  To share and discuss or "collaborate" on work in real time, and to allow for those who may have missed conversations to "catch up" on history.  That's why there persistance is important.  It can be used as a log of decisions that were made and documented in a conversational style.  It should be used to request fast feed back on ideas, questions, and problems that arise during the day so you don't have to have so many meetings that waste a bunch of time.  And in public channels the whole team can see whats going on without having to figure out what emails are important.  Partitioning those Channels to relevant topics to reduce noise is probably the biggest challenge.  But at least in my experience this kind of tech allows distributed teams to work more easily as if they were collocated.  Just my two cents. I'm sure others have differing opinions and perspectives of these tools.

  9. 0 | Reply
    73rian Alpha Member #2270 - 4 weeks ago

    I don't get how this is a Slack competitor. Slack became popular in our office because half or more of the developers are on Macs and unlike Skype, Slack works just as well on both Windows and Macs. Unless Microsoft treats Mac/Linux/Web users as first-class citizens, I don't see how this is going to get much traction. We use Office 365 but I can't see this replacing Slack for us.

    1. 0 | Reply
      JCerna Alpha Member #527 - 4 weeks ago
      In reply to 73rian:

      Have you tried it? For me it's a winner so far, however, will need a few months to really test it. The apps are available on mac and all other platforms, maybe not Linux.