Editor’s Note: this blog was originally posted on November 2, 2016. It has been updated to reflect product updates and the General Availability release.
Today, Microsoft announced the general availability of Teams. In this post, we’ll be covering what’s new since the November preview, what we’ve learned today, and we’ll also compare Microsoft Team vs. Slack (now that Slack has released its first attempt into the enterprise space, Enterprise Grid)!
What We Learned Today:
- At the live event, Microsoft Office CVP, Kirk Koenigsbauer finally said the words we were waiting for since November 2: “Starting today, Teams is now automatically provisioned within Office 365.”
- Back in November, we covered the preview announcement and felt that the following quote summarized Microsoft’s vision for Teams and was again the introduction to the presentation today:
“No two teams are the same. No two projects are the same. There is no universal tool for teams, but rather a universal toolkit that we call Office 365 … Today we’re adding a new tool and experience to Office 365, Microsoft Teams, a chat-based workspace.”
– Satya Nadella, Chief Executive Officer of Microsoft
- Office 365 is the leading engine of collaboration, and Microsoft’s vision for Teams is becoming a reality. Don’t believe it? Check out the numbers presented by Kirk Koenigsbauer:
– Office 365: 85 million active users
– Outlook: 8 billion email messages are sent per day
– SharePoint: 60 petabytes of data stored in Office 365 and grew 300% in the past year
– Yammer: 70% adoption growth in last year
– Skype for Business: 2x more time spent in meetings in the last year
– Teams: 50,000 organizations tried teams since the November preview with 30% adoption growth month over month, and 100 new features shipped since preview!
- Teams has added a ton of new features since the preview and we’re recapping below!
- What’s Next for Teams?
– External guest access capabilities is expected in June
– Deeper Outlook integration is expected in the next few months
– News about the Developer platform, which will include a fully integrated AppStore, will be unveiled at Microsoft Build (May 10-12, 2017)
What’s New in Microsoft Teams?
In November, we covered the basics on “What is Microsoft Teams?” If you aren’t up to speed, we’ll restate our original post and then add the new features and functionality from today’s announcement.
Simply put, it’s a chat-based workspace in Office 365 designed for teams of colleagues to collaborate.
As defined by Microsoft, Microsoft Teams is “a new chat-based workspace that further enhances the collaboration capabilities in Microsoft Office 365, the cloud-based productivity offering with more than 85 million monthly active commercial users. Microsoft Teams brings together people, conversations, content and the tools teams need to collaborate.”
Here are the four promises about Microsoft Teams and the new features added, as explained by Microsoft Office CVP Kirk Koenigsbauer:
Chat for Today’s Teams
- A modern conversation experience for today’s teams
- Threaded, persistent chat
- Open groups chats or private 1:1 discussions
- Skype for voice and video calls (Read up on the differences between Skype for Business and Microsoft Teams)
- Easily switch between teams
- Show personality with emojis, GIFs
What’s New at General Availability:
- Audio calling from mobile devices
- Video calling from Android
- Ability to email a channel so people can continue conversations within Teams
A Hub for Teamwork
- Bringing together the full breadth and depth of Office 365
- Word, Excel, PowerPoint, OneNote are all built-in
- Integrated with SharePoint, Power BI, Planner
- Intelligence through Microsoft Graph helping with information relevancy and discovery
- Based on the Office 365 Groups service, making it easy to move naturally across collaboration tools
What’s New at General Availability:
- Support to make teams open, public, and searchable within the organization
- Enhanced meeting experience by adding scheduling capabilities, integrating free/busy calendar availability, making it easier to transition from chat to high quality voice and video
Customizable for Each Team
- Rich extensibility and open APIs to customize work space
- Tailored channels and custom memes
- Integrate common cloud services with a feature called Tabs for quick access to frequently used content and information
- Shares the same Connector model as Exchange, providing notifications and updates from Twitter and other third party services directly within Teams
- Supports Microsoft BOT framework with extensible APIs for first- and third-party services
What’s new at General Availability:
- New Microsoft Teams integrations with bots like Growbot, Hipmunk and ModuleQ
- Bots can be used across channels, making it easier to gather information and streamline tasks within your workflow
- Using tabs, teams can customize its environment within Microsoft tools like Planner, VisualStudio or third party services
- New partnerships with SAP and Trello, letting users integrate key apps and services, truly making it their own customize hub for teamwork
Security Teams Trust
- Data encrypted at rest and in transit – transparent operational model with no standing access to customer data
- Compliance leadership with EUMC, HIPAA, and more
- Multi-factor authentication for enhanced protection
- Served from Microsoft’s global hyper-scale network
- Centrally managed as part of Office 365
What’s new at General Availability:
- Mobile management with Microsoft Intune
- New features for compliance and litigation support including eDiscovery, audit log search, and legal hold across channels, chats, and files
- Enhanced Accessibility features
Comparing Microsoft Teams vs Slack:
Reports have circulated that Microsoft once considered bidding $8 billion for the popular work-chat app Slack earlier this year. And now some are claiming that instead, Microsoft Teams is positioned as Microsoft’s attempt as a “Slack-killer”.
We’re not going to go that far! Undoubtedly, Microsoft Teams is definitely positioned as a Slack competitor, but so is Yammer. So for the purposes of this blog, let’s just take a look at the products and the features we know about:
Wait, What is Slack?
As positioned by the company, Slack is a messaging app for teams, bringing all your team’s communication and files in one place, where they’re instantly searchable and available wherever you go. Sound familiar?
Microsoft Teams’ User Interface:
[Image from Microsoft]
Comparing Slack vs Microsoft Teams Features and Functionality
Key Differences: Microsoft Teams vs Slack
From today’s demonstration, here are the notable differences:
- Threaded Conversations: Like Yammer, Facebook Comments or Disqus Comments, Microsoft Teams users can simply reply to a message on a channel by clicking on the reply button and anyone can join the thread. Slack does not offer this functionality
- Video and Audio Calling: Core features of Skype for Business (like voice and video calling and even the ability to schedule online meetings via Outlook and Skype integration) are available in public and private channels right within Microsoft Groups. Slack does not offer this functionality. (Read more about whether “Microsoft Teams” replace “Skype for Business”)
[Image courtesy of Microsoft live demo]
- Built-In Microsoft Apps: Users can work from other Microsoft products within Office 365 – including apps like Word, Excel, PowerPoint – right within Microsoft Teams
- Deep Integration with Microsoft Services: Deep integration with other Microsoft services within Office 365 – including PowerBI, OneDrive for Business, right within Microsoft Teams.
Slack Fights Back: Preparing for Microsoft Teams
To make sure we’re giving an unbiased and 360 degree view, we’re happy to point out that Slack posted a letter to Microsoft about last November’s annoucement. Here are the top takeaways from Slack:
- First, and most importantly, it’s not the features that matter.
- Second, an open platform is essential.
- Third, you’ve got to do this with love.
- One final point: Slack is here to stay.
Slack Enterprise Grid: Keeping an Eye on the Enterprise
Slack and Microsoft have certainly exchanged blows over the last few months, and there seems to be no sign of a ceasefire on the horizon. As Microsoft prepared to make Teams generally available, Slack has taken a few preemptive strikes against both their critics and competitors with the announcement of Enterprise Grid. While the finer details haven’t quite been made public, it’s clear that Microsoft has put the pressure on and Slack is responding in kind.
Okay, so What is Slack Enterprise Grid?
In the early days while the mid-market and small businesses were jumping on the Slack bandwagon, the enterprise was a bit more hesitant. Concerns around scale, security, and interoperability kept many giants at bay. With Enterprise Grid, Slack looks to even the playing field by supporting organizations well beyond the initially suffocating limits of 150 users, but also takes aim at a lot of other criticisms. Let’s take a quick look:
As you can see, the latest offering from Slack is certainly quite appealing and directly addresses some of the most common criticisms of the platform. Is it game over for Microsoft? Not quite. Slack is still missing capabilities that many enterprise organizations are familiar with, such as email, VOIP broadcasting, and portals. It will be interesting to see how these things develop over the coming months.
Side by Side: Slack Enterprise Grid vs Microsoft Teams
Microsoft needs to continue playing towards their strengths. While Slack has introduced interoperability into their platform to plug gaps, Microsoft natively provides much of these capabilities out of the box across their stack such as Azure AD and its robust Machine Learning Capabilities in Azure. This means they will be able to take advantage of any new developments much faster than Slack will when it comes to Microsoft technology. The Microsoft Teams strength lies in the Office 365 platform, while many organizations may not need certain features, for those who do advanced capabilities like project and portfolio management, with Project Online, are just a click and credit card swipe away.
Most importantly, MS Teams is free if you already own a valid Office 365 Subscription. As Jeffery Schwartz of Redmond magazine said, “Microsoft has one key advantage with Microsoft Teams: it’ll be included with Office 365 subscriptions. This should give it significant gravitational pull with IT from a management and cost perspective.” This theme repeats itself across features, Slack offers hooks to integrate with DLP while Microsoft does this out of the box; Slack connects to CRM systems like Salesforce while Microsoft provides connections and its own service via Dynamics 365. This is a trend that bodes well for Microsoft but not for Slack and it will be interesting to see how they develop going forward.
One thing to note is that Enterprise Grid is currently deployed on a client by client basis unlike their standard platform which comes with a self-guided trial. They’ve certainly had a strong debut with customers like IBM, Capital One and Paypal while at the same time Microsoft announced that during its preview program over 30,000 organizations have previewed the technology. It will be very interesting to see how quickly their offering grows compared to Microsoft’s rollout of Office 365 Groups and Teams. There certainly will be no shortage of action from either side.
More from AvePoint about Microsoft Teams:
If you’re looking for more information about Microsoft Teams, we’ve developed a bunch of great articles and videos to help with the following topics:
- Webinar with Microsoft and MVPs talking about Teams Click Here >
- The difference between Microsoft Teams vs Skype for Business Click Here >
- The difference between Microsoft Teams vs Groups Click Here >
- The impact of Office 365 Groups Yammer integration Click Here >
If you’re still struggling with the difference between Microsoft Teams vs Office 365 Groups, the team has even created an awesome infographic to help show you how to decide when to use SharePoint and Yammer and Office 365 Groups and Outlook and Skype.