Beth Schultz
Beth Schultz is editor of No Jitter and program co-chair for Enterprise Connect. Beth has more than two decades of...
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Beth Schultz | September 07, 2016 |


Microsoft Planning Slack Attack?

Microsoft Planning Slack Attack? Sources tell a Microsoft tech blogger that a team messaging app, Skype Teams, is imminent.

Sources tell a Microsoft tech blogger that a team messaging app, Skype Teams, is imminent.

Just about any company developing or offering a team messaging app (and there are loads of them) has to break through Slack's stronghold, including Microsoft. Or so it would seem, based on a report from tech blog (MSPU), watcher of all things coming out of Redmond.

Citing "people familiar with the matter," MSPU deputy editor Mehedi Hassan yesterday wrote in a post that Microsoft is gunning for Slack with a team messaging app it'll call "Skype Teams." The post set off a flurry of coverage, but Microsoft itself remains mum on the speculation. The word I received on my inquiry to Microsoft: "Nothing to share on this."

That Microsoft would have a team messaging app under development should come as no surprise to anybody who's been following the latest trends in enterprise communications and collaboration. As I've noted previously, team messaging has become such a hot area of development among UC vendors and wannabe startups, with such intensifying interest among enterprise users that we've even added a track to the Enterprise Connect 2017 conference program to help get everybody up to speed on what's happening with next-gen messaging and team collaboration. Why Microsoft hasn't jumped into team messaging feet first, much as its primary UC competitor, Cisco, has done, has been a big question hanging over the market.

We know of Microsoft's interest in team messaging and collaboration-- if we're to believe another widespread rumor from months ago, the company even tried acquiring Slack. Aside from that, there are real products and initiatives as proof: Starting points for team collaboration are Yammer and Office 365 Groups, for example, and integration of real-time chat into Office 365 Online is another. And we mustn't forget LinkedIn, and the team collaboration promise that lies within the massive business community (see related article, "When Microsoft, LinkedIn Rule Business Communications"). Plus, with Microsoft's annual Ignite conference just weeks away, product speculation of this sort is par for the course.

So what do these "people familiar with the matter" have to say about Skype Teams?

This app will use the familiar "channel" metaphor to allow users to chat in groups, facilitate one-to-one conversations via more traditional instant messaging, and support a threaded conversation feature similar to what you'd find in the No Jitter comments section. Users will be able to conduct video chats in a channel or privately, schedule online meetings, and share content within Skype Teams, MSPU reported.


And, of course, Skype Teams would integrate into the Office 365 universe of apps -- while Microsoft reportedly plans Web, Windows, and mobile versions of the app, its first target will be Office 365 subscribers, MSPU said -- and support the Microsoft Bot Framework for developers. And just because, it'll also include something MSPU said will be called "The Fun Picker," a collection of emojis, gifs, and so on.

"Skype Teams will include a similar user experience to Slack," MSPU summarized. "Simply put, if you have previously used Slack, Skype Teams will look quite familiar to you and that's not really a bad thing. Keep in mind that Slack doesn't include integration with Office 365 or some of the other major Microsoft services such as OneDrive -- so businesses who use Office 365 may certainly be interested in using Skype Teams thanks to the powerful Office 365 integration."

MSPU shared no word on potential general availability, noting only that internal Microsoft teams are testing Skype Teams. While we await some official word on this, I'm sure many No Jitter readers will be wondering the same sorts of things as we are -- like where does this supposed team messaging fit in with Yammer and Skype for Business?

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