If your teams were using cloud-based messaging and collaborative tools before last year, the chances are you were using Slack. The group chat app quickly took off in the business world and there were reports that Microsoft considered bidding billions for the business in March 2016. Instead they launched their own tool, Microsoft Teams, almost exactly a year later, and since then has quickly become Slack’s biggest rival.
How can Microsoft Teams fit into your business?
One of the great benefits of Microsoft Teams is that it can easily be integrated into an existing Office 365 package, with all the security and utility that brings. Whether your teams are based in the same office, dispersed globally, working from home or on the move, they can access features including document collaboration, one-on-one chat, team chat and more.
In answer to Slack Calls, Teams can also be used to make Voice over IP (VoIP) calls and video conferencing to internal company contacts as well as external mobile and landline numbers. Microsoft is currently in the process of rolling Skype for Business into Teams. Many features have already been migrated into Teams, with the rest due to arrive over the course of the coming year.
What does the new update look like?
The new update, which Microsoft says is the product’s biggest yet, is all about apps. That makes sense because it’s an area where Slack was previously in front, with its own app directory allowing it to highlight all the apps and tools currently compatible with its own resources.
The Teams update now allows you to access a personalised view of your apps, include information from apps in a conversation, discover new apps in the Store and gives new ways to use the command box.
Let’s take a closer look:
Personal apps space
The new personal apps space allows you to easily find items that have been assigned to you, whether these are third-party apps such as Jira Cloud or Microsoft tools like Planner. Recently accessed items such as Microsoft Stream videos are placed at your fingertips and a new app called Who lets you search for people within your organisation by name or topic.
Use info from an app in a conversation
Now there’s no need to use a hyperlink or screenshot if you want to bring information from an app into a chat. You can now add information such as work items or tasks from apps into the conversation with a single click, in much the same way as you could add a GIF or other item.
The new Store for apps
The new Store can essentially be seen as a direct competitor to Slack’s app directory. You can search the Store for apps and services by name, integration type or category (such as Project Management).
You can now command and query apps directly from the relocated command box. For now, you can search for info from an app and add it directly into your chat but Microsoft says more command tasks will be added over time. The update also adds slash commands, which are essentially shortcuts you can use in the command box to carry out tasks such as calling a colleague or setting your status to ‘away’.