Brian Riggs | March 13, 2017 |


Email Killers 2017: A Look at 14 Cloud-Based Team Collaboration Apps

It took Microsoft a while to finally dip its toe into the team collaboration app waters. Perhaps it's been waiting -- as I have been, to be perfectly honest -- to see if this whole team collaboration thing is just a fad that would go away on its own accord. Or maybe it wanted to make sure none of its myriad other messaging apps -- like Yammer and Skype for Business -- really couldn't be a viable alternative to persistent workspaces. Regardless, with Teams now generally available as of this week, consider Microsoft fully immersed in the market.

Microsoft is doing something a bit different with Teams. It's not a freemium service, and even the paid plans aren't for just anyone to use. That is, there's no way for any Joe Schmo to download the app and start using it. Rather, Teams is part of the Office 365 suite, and tightly integrated into its various apps. Microsoft describes Teams as a "true hub" for Word, Excel, PowerPoint, SharePoint, OneNote, Planner, Power BI and Delve, each of which are integrated with Teams so users can access them from the persistent workspaces they create.

As I've written previously, by making Teams available only to Office 365 subscribers, Microsoft is trying to dissuade Office 365 customers from adopting Slack or Spark or any of the others. Of course it can't prevent Office 365 customers from doing so, but why would you pay for team collaboration from Cisco or Slack or whoever when you can get it for free -- and presumably more tightly integrated -- with Office 365? It's a perfectly valid approach, and one that should appeal greatly to current and future Microsoft customers.

Office 365 has an international user base, and Microsoft is designing Teams accordingly. It has been localized in 18 languages, and its support for the EU Model Clauses and other non-U.S. compliance standards will appeal to businesses overseas.

(Check out this infographic for a side-by-side comparison of Teams and Slack.)

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