Microsoft unveils Microsoft Teams

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Keeping teams working together effectively online has always been a bit hit and miss - we used to use Skype and its chat groups here at All About Towers. Others have recently used Slack, a startup which has seen a lot of success, but now Microsoft has got into the game in a big way, expanding the Office 365 empire with a new product, Microsoft Teams (née Skype Teams, so you can see where all this came from in terms of ideas). See the release and promo video below, though note that this is all for just Office 365's Business and Enterprise SKUs, so don't get too excited as a consumer/enthusiast.

There's an on-demand webcast here, though it wasn't working just now. So be patient if you want to re-watch this.

From the press release:

Microsoft Corp. on Wednesday unveiled Microsoft Teams, 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.

“At Microsoft we aim to empower every person and organization with the technology to be more productive as individuals and in groups,” said Satya Nadella, CEO, Microsoft. “Office 365 is the broadest toolkit and platform for creation, communication and collaboration. Microsoft Teams adds a new experience to Office 365 as the chat-based workspace designed to empower the art of teams.”

Microsoft Teams is built on four core promises:

  • Chat for today’s teams. Microsoft Teams provides persistent, threaded chat to keep everyone engaged and informed. Team conversations are visible to the entire team by default, and the experience also offers private chat capabilities. A library of emojis, GIFs, custom stickers and memes gives people a fun way to express personality within their digital workspace.
  • A hub for teamwork. Microsoft Teams brings together the full breadth and depth of Office 365. People can start voice and video meetings, as well as work with Microsoft Office documents, directly within the Microsoft Teams experience. The Microsoft Graph enables intelligence to help with information relevance, discovery and sharing. Microsoft Teams is also built on Office 365 Groups, the cross-application membership service that makes it easy for people to move naturally from one collaboration tool to another, preserve their sense of context and share with others.
  • Customizable for each team. Because every team is unique, Microsoft Teams offers the ability for teams to customize the experience to meet their specific needs. Team members can create channels to organize conversations by topic. They can customize channels with a feature called Tabs, which provide quick access to frequently used documents and applications. Tabs can be created for Office 365 services like OneNote, SharePoint and Planner, or third-party solutions, such as Zendesk and Asana coming soon. Microsoft Teams supports the same Connector model as Exchange to bring notifications and updates from third-party services, such as Twitter or GitHub available Wednesday, directly into the experience. In addition, it supports the Microsoft Bot Framework to bring intelligent first- and third-party services into the team environment. The preview of the Microsoft Teams Developer Preview, also announced today, gives developers the opportunity to start building integrations with Microsoft Teams right away.
  • Security that teams trust. As part of Office 365, Microsoft Teams offers the global scale and advanced security and compliance capabilities provided by the Microsoft Cloud. Data is encrypted at all times and covered by a transparent operational model with no standing access to customer data. Multifactor authentication provides enhanced identity protection to help ensure data stays safe within the team. In addition, Microsoft Teams will support key compliance and data protection standards, such as the data processing terms with European Union Model Clauses, Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act business associate agreement (HIPAA BAA), ISO 27001, ISO 27018, and SSAE 16 SOC 1 and 2 report.

Starting today, the preview is available in 181 countries and 18 languages, to Office 365 commercial customers with Office 365 Enterprise or Business plans. We're assuming that the client-side implementation is as a UWP app on Windows 10 Mobile (update: it's now available here), plus apps for other mobile platforms, including Android and iOS.

Interesting stuff, even if the first most of us will know of this in the real world is if the company we work for presents it to us as the new way of working together some time in 2017.

See below for the impressive promo video. Have the people in it really been using Microsoft Teams that effectively for that long? You have to wonder...

See also a walkthrough of all the features for businesses here:

Source / Credit: Microsoft