The worst-kept secret in tech is out of the bag: After months of leaks and speculation, Microsoft has officially launched Teams, a new work chat app for its Office 365 suite.
Microsoft Teams is a direct competitor with Slack, the $3.8 billion Silicon Valley darling that Bill Gates reportedly talked the Redmond giant out of buying for $8 billion.
Teams works much like Slack, or its Aussie rival Atlassian HipChat: Teams of employees create “channels,” or chat rooms, where they can collaborate on projects and assignments. It also integrates with chatbots and other automated systems to put vital information (like website outages) automatically.
Here’s a video of Microsoft Teams in action:
Unlike Slack or HipChat which sell directly to companies based on how many users they have, Microsoft’s main method of selling Teams will be a part of the Office 365 subscription suite.
That’s a big plus in getting Teams into rotation at larger enterprises which might already be Office 365 customers – and a big minus for Slack, which has the acclaim of smaller companies, but has struggled somewhat to make a serious dent in larger businesses, which have more stringent requirements around security and regulatory compliance.
For its part, though, Slack doesn’t seem worried: The startup took out a full-page ad in the New York Times to welcome Microsoft to the market.