According to a recent report, Microsoft is going to give its Skype video calling app a new avatar called Skype Teams that will put it in direct competition with Slack, one of the world’s most popular team collaboration apps. Slack is essentially a chat tool with file-sharing capabilities that integrates with other apps to give robust functionality.
Until now, Skype has only popular for its video conferencing capability, which Slack does not yet have. With Skype Teams, small and large companies will be able to leverage the power of Skype as well as collaborate on projects, share notes, distribute files, apply security restrictions and effectively create closed groups that can work together completely online. The user interface for Skype Teams will almost exactly mirror the functionality on Slack, and this is likely intended to attract Slack users into Microsoft’s fold.
It’s extremely useful for today’s workforce, which is often distributed around the world. Virtual teams are becoming more popular as online job sites such as Upwork and Freelancer.com attract companies that want to hire remote employees from countries like the Philippines and India. In such countries, there is a vast surplus of skilled workers in areas such as technical support, virtual secretarial services, customer service, sales, accounting and so on.
With Skype Teams, businesses will now have a solid alternative to Slack, which, as I said, doesn’t yet have the video and voice calling capabilities that Skype is famous for.
What’s interesting about this announcement is that Microsoft is gaining momentum in the enterprise space with applications served on the cloud, like Office 365, for instance. As businesses gravitate towards Microsoft’s as-a-service model of offering nearly everything on a subscription basis, the company is creating all the tools required for a business to operate efficiently over the web. In addition to Windows 10 commercial subscriptions, Microsoft also offers apps like Stream for closed-group video-sharing, Skype for Business and many others. Skype Teams will now be the newest member of that family, and users can easily add whatever services they need to their Microsoft bundle.
At the end of the day, it is the convenience of having everything under one umbrella that will see Microsoft making significant gains in the business world. They already offer Azure, their cloud computing service, to businesses that want to move their IT infrastructure off-premises, and this is the direction the company has chosen for its future.
Microsoft’s multi-device capable Windows 10 operating system, along with a plethora of cloud-based services, now form a robust ecosystem where users can pick and choose the services that will make them more productive and tech-capable.
I call this Microsoft-as-a-Service, and it is clear that every new product or service that the company releases henceforth will be designed to either be a part of that ecosystem or integrate seamlessly with it, whether that’s the HoloLens, the Surface range of products or the newly announced Skype Teams.
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