Microsoft is now rolling out its Teams platform globally to all Office 365 users after entering beta since November. Teams, for the uninitiated, is the company's own group messaging and collaboration service designed around chatrooms, the release of which almost prides itself as a formidable threat to Slack.
Microsoft Teams Takes On Slack
Slack, for the past few years, has become the popular messaging platform of choice for both corporate environments and group-based enterprises, delivering a unique, streamlined, and clean web-based communication platform.
Of course, group collaboration software isn't new, so Slack isn't revolutionary by any extent — just the most recognized and user-friendly at present. But Teams has a chance to hit slack where it hurts.
As per Ars Technica's report, Teams will roll out to all commercial organizations under Business Essentials, Business Premium, Enterprise E1, E3, and E5 plans. With it comes brand-new features as well, such as the ability for users to schedule meetings or events without ever having to leave the Teams interface. Ars Technica notes that Teams is looking great — for a "version 1," that is. However, it's easy to imagine that it'll only evolve moving forward, fusing together the best bits of Office 365 apps and leveraging them to deliver a one-size-fits-all communication platform equipped with unique collaboration tools.
"With more than 85 million active users, Office 365 empowers individuals, teams and entire organizations with the broadest and deepest toolkit for collaboration," wrote Kirk Koenigsbauer, Microsoft's corporate VP for the Office team.
Teams Is Built Into The Office 365 Experience
Teams joins Office 365's roster of apps that cater to unique workstyles set by groups with its purpose-built, integrated applications such as Outlook, SharePoint, Yammer, and Skype for Business. Teams builds upon Slack's integral identity as the modern-day IRC with modern-day features, with the key difference between the two being that Teams is integrated into Microsoft's suite of productivity apps. Slack is a standalone software. This essentially negates the need for Office 365 users to painstakingly create additional accounts just to leverage the Teams platform. Just sign in, and Teams takes care of the rest.
For example, because Teams is part of the whole Office 365 experience, moving from a text chat to video is just a click away, thanks to Teams's integration with Skype for Business.
Thankfully, Teams also works with a range of platforms, so users can freely access it wherever they wish, be it on an iOS device, an Android device, a Windows mobile device, a PC, a Mac, and even on a web browser. Teams also allows the creation of small private groups, which, unlike a channel, isn't discoverable to the public.
Similar to Slack, Teams also has third-party integrations set in place, and there's even a definitive framework available for setting up messaging bots. Some integrations can even help make a line of text more dynamic, such as Giphy, with the ability to search for the perfect GIF to every situation.
Teams also handles file sharing with a little bit more finesse compared with Slack, which is again thanks to Office 365, particularly SharePoint. Microsoft says that more than 150 third-party integrations is set to hit Teams, including Growbot and Trello.
Microsoft Teams: A Slack Killer
Though Teams in itself looks like a highly impressive platform, one can't help but put Teams and Slack in parallel, in particular with how Teams handles threaded messages. But Microsoft proves how well it holds itself in terms of differentiating itself from the latter. For example, Teams lets users quickly browse and collapse specific messages and replies, which delivers a cleaner, less confusing interface. Slack has taken three years to implement a similar feature, by contrast.
Some Things Work Better On Teams Than On Slack
Engadget's report notes that Teams's design is surprisingly well-thought, and that's coming from a longtime Slack user, particularly noting ease of use in browsing through threaded messages, initiating video calls, and scheduling events within the app.
Of course, Microsoft admits that Teams won't serve as the perfect solution every time, but the way it presents itself as a coalition of the best Office 365 elements, letting users leverage the best parts of the suite, could greatly complement collaborative projects.
Of course, Teams is still fairly incipient, and it'll need more time to fully evolve as the de facto communication platform for organizations and enterprises. But seeing how Microsoft only had 21 months to build it and given how polished it feels already according to early impressions, Slack should very well be stepping its game lest it's pushed out of its rank.