Microsoft Teams, the company’s rival to Slack’s enterprise messaging, will be coming to India by the end of March. The preview of Teams, which brings chat-based conversations for enterprises, has gone live for select organisations in India, who are using the commercial version of Office 365 suite. Microsoft won’t be charging extra for turning on Teams for enterprises; the messaging app will be offered as part of the Office 365 suite. Teams was first announced in November, last year.
Microsoft says its Office 365 suite has more than 85 million monthly active commercial users, though it has not given a specific number for enterprises in India using the service. “Office 365 is designed for the work style of every group. Now with Teams, we are not bringing old school chat. Instead what we’re bringing is threaded conversations, a hub for team work. There’s no duplication, and all the conversations stored in one place. Plus it gives quick access to all the information being stored, used in Office 365,” said Alok Lall, Microsoft Business Group lead for Office Division in India.
Currently Teams is available as an app on Android, iOS, Windows 10, on a web browser and as a rich client platform. Teams works similar to Slack; it allows users to create a Team and then add people from the contacts list into these groups. Users can create channels as well to include only some team members for a particular project or conversation. Teams currently supports OneDrive integration, and users can upload documents, presentations from the Office 365 suite and share with others on the group to edit, make changes, etc.
Additionally Microsoft has tried to add some ‘fun’ elements to its chat-based enterprise app by including the ability to share emojis and gifs. The advantage with Teams is that it is automatically linked to all features, applications provides in the Office 365 suite. So Skype for Business calls can be made from Teams, documents from Word can be edited in real-time. It will also let people set tasks, assignments for their teammates with deadlines.
When Microsoft Teams was first announced last year, one significant feature it had over Slack was threaded conversations. However, Slack introduced this recently, and has gone for deeper integration with Google Drive. On the other hand, Microsoft Office 365 suite also includes Yammer, the social network for enterprise. Microsoft had acquired Yammer in 2012, and it also has features for enterprise chatting. However, Yammer will continue to remain a separate offering from Teams.
Teams also includes a customisation feature for channels which is called Tabs, that will let give quick access to documents and applications, which are frequently used. The messaging service will also allow notifications and updates from third-party services like Twitter or GitHub, directly into the channels for better collaboration.
Microsoft says with Teams it is offering enterprise level security as well. The company says data is encrypted at all times and covered by a transparent operational model with no standing access to customer data.