Slack Deepens Email Connections

While Microsoft has spent the last couple of days at Ignite hammering home its Teams-as-intelligent-hub-cum-center-of-the-universe messaging, its team collaboration nemesis Slack has fortified efforts to make its platform the "streamlined hub for collaboration." It's done so with the acquisition of Astro, an email app provider.

Email? Yes, email.

That's because, as the Slack team shared in announcing the news, despite team channels being more and more where work happens, email is still an important means of business communications. "Billions of emails are sent every day, and in those are millions of documents exchanged, contracts negotiated and decisions memorialized," Slack wrote.

While Slack has previously enabled email integration, the company noted that having the "deep expertise in email infrastructure" that comes with the Astro team will allow it to ease interoperability. According to the Slack post, the Astro team has been involved in the development of a variety of email and messaging tools, including open source tool Zimbra, Accompli, and Mumbo – the latter two now within the Microsoft/LinkedIn fold via acquisition.

"We see this as a natural next step as channel-based collaboration becomes the default way of working," Slack wrote.

The Astrobot app for Slack has been available since mid-2017, enabling connectivity to email, calendar, and Slack channels. "For example Astro users could do a single search and get results back from both Slack and email, they could manage their most important emails in Slack, and without leaving Slack they could check what's next on their Office 365 or Google calendar," Astro noted in its acquisition post.

But as of the deal's announcement, Astro said it is no longer signing up new users, and that it will shut down its apps for Amazon Alexa, Android, Apple iOS and Mac, and Slack on Oct. 10. It advised current users to switch to email apps from Apple, Google, Microsoft, or other providers, and noted that because the Astrobot app "continuously syncs data with Gmail and Office 365 accounts" they can do so without seeing changes in related messages or calendar events before the cut-off date.

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