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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