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What is Microsoft Teams?

Microsoft Teams or rivals like Slack or Workplace by Facebook, aren’t really anything new.  They are a combination of (probably) familiar online services into a single system.

In corporate speak, Teams is a cloud-based set of team collaboration tools and services combining workplace chat, meetings, notes, and attachments.  So much for that gobbledygook.

Bringing chat into documents

If you’ve ever collaborated on a document, worksheet or presentation you’ve probably used a mix of communication options.  Within the document you can add limited notes or comments but nothing else.  To talk to the other people you had to figure out other technologies for yourself; messaging, voice calls, group calls or video conferences via Skype, WhatsApp or whatever everyone agreed upon.

Relevant documents under one roof

There was no simple way to bring together people or documents for a particular project, event or reason.  Existing Office, Word, Excel, Powerpoint treats each document as a separate thing rather than part of a wider purpose.  For example, a new product project will have Excel, Word and PowerPoint documents that need grouping together.  All the chat and communication between people on the project needs to be kept in one place so everyone can see how the topic is progressing.

Teams bring all the documents, information and communication into a single online area that people inside and outside the organization can access.


Search lets you find specific things within a team or channel.  We The soexplain all the different Teams terminology and how people are grouped.

The social factor

People want somewhere they can talk about non-business or peripheral topics … a ‘virtual Watercooler’.   This might seem like a diversion from real work, but the social element makes services like Teams and Slack more accessible and comfortable for people to use.

Guests are an important part of the mix.  Most projects involve people outside the main organizations – suppliers, consultants, wholesalers etc.  Teams now allows for ‘Guests’ to become involved in specific Teams’.

Isn’t that Microsoft SharePoint?

Teams is the junior and less customizable version of Microsoft’s Sharepoint service.  Teams now has a free option which lets everyone try it out and use it for smaller organizations and businesses.

Redmond will deny it, but they only made Teams because Slack has become very, very popular.  Slack risked becoming a rival to Microsoft Office and related online services … so Microsoft made Teams to fight back.

What about Skype for Business?

Originally, Microsoft built a collaboration service based around Skype for Business which later morphed into Microsoft Teams.

Office 365 for Education or Microsoft Classroom also had similar features until it was cancelled and users moved to Microsoft Teams.

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