Microsoft has certainly been having a hectic couple of weeks. Soon after the Oct 26 launch of Surface Studio and the unveiling of the 2017 Windows 10 Creators Update, the company held another event in New York to launch Microsoft Teams, a collaborative communications tool for the workplace.
It’s clear that Microsoft couldn’t hold back its excitement because it’s unusual for the company to have back to back events for major announcements. And Teams is certainly a major announcement because it brings the best of Office 365 and Skype to enterprise users.
Basically, everything that Office 365 offers was brought to the table with the Teams app. Being a collaborative chat tool, the main feature is basically a Slack-like interface. But that’s about the only similarity, it seems. With integration for Excel, Word, PowerPoint, OneNote and Skype all build it to the app, it is definitely one of the most powerful collaboration tools available today.
But in order to compete with Slack, they knew that they needed a lot more than just an alternative productivity app. So they threw in a bunch of customization options using the power of Microsoft’s Cloud and Microsoft Bots. Users can tweak the interface and capabilities to a great extent, and they’ve even given a whole library of emojis, memes and so on that can be customized.
The bots themselves bring in a whole new level of interaction for users. T-Bot, for example, gives the user a universal search functionality, while WhoBot can search for people based on contextual questions. The emergence of bots is not new, of course, because Slackbot has been around for a while now. However, with the additional capability of crawling through masses of documents and files, we expect T-Bot to be extremely useful at finding stuff.
Microsoft Teams will be launched primarily as a desktop application, but a toned-down version will also be released for iOS, Android and, obviously, Windows Phone.
Since integrations are a core feature of Microsoft Teams, the company has already dropped a few big names like Zendesk, Hootsuite and Asana. Notification feeds can also be created for GitHub, Twitter and so on.
Available in preview mode in 181 countries, the app was made available today to third-party developers for further integration with a wide range of applications. The full version will be available to the general public sometime before April 2017.
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