Teams – the latest part of the Office family

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Microsoft has released its version of the popular new method of team communication – messaging.

Microsoft Teams is an ‘instant-messaging plus’ addition to Office 365 Enterprise plans which offers group communication (similar to instant messaging), private ‘one on one’ messaging, document collaboration, video/audio group calls.

It’s Redmond answer to Slack which made this type of ‘no email’ collaboration very popular and a threat to Microsoft’s dominance of collaboration.  Teams wasn’t born from some altruistic desire by Microsoft for better collaboration, it’s to ruthlessly maim or kill a commercial rival.

Teams uses all the current tech buzzwords being a “cloud-based communication, collaboration, and productivity platform”.  It also covers all the major bases that the product needs:

  • Web based interface
  • Mobile apps to supplement that
  • Threaded Chats (similar to the comment with reply in Word)
  • Office document integration including live collaboration on a document.
  • Plug-in app support

Source: Microsoft

Teams is made up of five parts:

  • Activity
  • Chat
  • Teams
  • Meetings
  • Files

Within those parts you can find linkages from other parts of the Office 365 cloud from old familiars like Word, Excel, PowerPoint, Onenote and SharePoint to newer arrivals like, Power BI and Delve.   Microsoft intends Teams to become the hub for all the disparate parts of the Office 365 cloud experience.

Will Teams be a success?

Of course, it will.   It’s being offered to existing corporate users with no increase in rates (at present) and from early reports is quite good.  It will be hard to justify paying for another collaboration service when there’s something available for no extra cost and is tightly linked to what an organization is already

Teams is only available to Office 365 commercial customers on the Business Essentials, Business Premium, and Enterprise E1, E3 or E5 plans.  It’s in preview now (admins can turn it on) and will be generally deployed in early 2017.

One advantage Slack has is the wider availability.  Slack offers a free plan which lets organizations try it out.  Many Slack’s paying customers started with a few staff using it and the service spreading from there.  Microsoft Teams is being imposed by network admins rather than growing from a natural desire for a different way to work.

Teams for Everyone

We hope Microsoft will release a form of Teams to Office 365 consumer and small business users.  Even individuals could make use of Teams for communication within a family, friends, clubs etc.

It would let a broader range of people become familiar with the product and the concepts behind it.  Better familiarity with Teams will reduce training costs for organizations.

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