- Microsoft unveiled its anticipated, and much-rumored, "Microsoft Teams" chat platform Wednesday, highlighting its full integration with Office 365.
- The platform features threaded messages, cloud service integrations, third party application integration, a bot framework and open APIs so developers can create some of their own offerings. The product also has data encryption at both rest and in motion, and follows regulatory compliance. Companion mobile applications run across all web platforms, including Windows, Mac, Android and iOS.
- A full preview of Microsoft Teams launches Wednesday and will have general availability in the first quarter of 2017. It is included in all Office 365 business and enterprise suites, and will be available in 181 countries and 18 languages.
Microsoft Teams is not necessarily a new idea. Numerous enterprise communication platforms such as Slack and Atlassian's HipChat already have a firm place in the market. Just last month, Facebook revealed its own enterprise communication platform, Workplace by Facebook, a tool similar to its consumer model but customized for businesses.
Many of the chat platforms are trying to create a tool users never have to leave. At every click of the button and keyboard command, employees can access everything they need to make them successful. But Microsoft has an advantage here. Customers that are Microsoft shops need only to turn on Teams. Many of the features they use are already built into Office 365. Its vast customer base will automatically make Microsoft one of the market leaders in the enterprise collaboration space. Already, it is a leader in the SaaS collaboration space.
But Slack, which has enjoyed much market hype, will not willingly release its hold as one of the leaders in the chat platform space. On Wednesday, in anticipation of Microsoft's announcement, Slack took out a full page ad in The New York Times to write an open letter to Microsoft about its new tool, welcoming it as a "worthy competitor" and an organization that can help Slack further define the new product category.
"We realized a few years ago that the value of switching to Slack was so obvious and the advantages so overwhelming that every business would be using Slack, or 'something just like it,' within the decade," the letter says. "It’s validating to see you’ve come around to the same way of thinking. And even though — being honest here — it’s a little scary, we know it will bring a better future forward faster."
That feeling when you think "we should buy a full page in the Times and publish an open letter," and then you do. pic.twitter.com/BQiEawRA6d— Stewart Butterfield (@stewart) November 2, 2016