Microsoft Teams Enters Preview

Posted on November 2, 2016 by Paul Thurrott in Office 365 with 24 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,’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, 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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Comments (24)

24 responses to “Microsoft Teams Enters Preview”

  1. 5496

    "And everyone can add personality to their digital workspace with emojis, stickers, GIFs and custom memes" NO! Not in business. They should leave that out.

  2. 467

    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!

  3. 3362

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

    • 556

      In reply to stevenmci:I asked paul to confrim but this is great news.


      • 3362

        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 :(

        • 556

          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.

  4. 427

    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. 

  5. 5637

    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. 

  6. 5486

    I see this app is actually designed to push Office365 adoption, in their attempt to move everyone to a subscription cloud service. Bottom line, that's what it's all about ladies and gents.

  7. 6993

    "This app requires appropriate comercial Office 365 subscription".

     Welp, so it's dead even before it starts.

     That was fast.

  8. 556

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

  9. 5496

    so how is this different form skype, or skype for business.

    • 5539

      In reply to lordbaal1:  I believe this keeps records and threads like e-mail, but allows the chat like collaboration of Skype messaging. So you can have a real time on-line conversation, but that conversation is journaled and maintained so you could pick it up later, or scroll back through yesterday's or last week's chat. 


  10. 5274

    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.

    • 556

      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. 

  11. 4504

    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.

  12. 5781

    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?

  13. 5510

    The only bad thing about this is, is.... the name.

    • 5615

      In reply to Bats:

      The lesser of two evils? It's notable that they decided not to go with Skype Teams. Sends a very clear message about how they now view that brand.

  14. 6190

    Surprisingly, Slack has a version for WP (beta).  The cross platform, including Linux (beta), ability of Slack will make it desirable in many development shops.