Microsoft Teams, their new collaboration and messaging service, has now gone live after a long beta test. As usual, the media have lapped up this news without a critical eye.
Teams is certainly interesting and powerful, see below for a quick introduction. Microsoft is packing in a lot of features; audio and video calling, integration with Word, Excel etc., scheduling and ‘bots’ to customize chats.
The human element is missing
Slack is the best known and market leader in this field. They gained popularity in part because anyone could use it, free. Groups of people in companies and more broadly took up Slack, often without the knowledge or permission of the IT department. It was this organic growth that made companies sign up for Slack officially.
People like Slack because they ‘discovered’ it themselves or through others they work with.
There’s no similar opportunity for Microsoft Teams. It’s being sold to IT managers who then impose it upon staff. That might work for the main Office programs (Word, Excel etc) but collaborative services need the genuine interest and enthusiasm of users.
Who can get Teams?
Microsoft’s hyper blog post about the Teams launch is very misleading, starting with the headline:
“Microsoft Teams rolls out to Office 365 customers worldwide”
Redmond hopes you’ll be fooled into thinking that all Office 365 customers now get Teams … and a good many were (they should have known better).
Teams is only available to high-end Office 365 enterprise customers. A fact skillfully omitted from the launch post.
We hope that Microsoft will make Teams available to Office 365 Home customers, at the very least. It would be in Microsoft’s best interests to do that.