In Redmond’s crosshairs: Microsoft takes aim at Slack

If Microsoft can’t have it, it will make it. At least that seems to be the case with the tech giant’s rumored plan of releasing what it hopes will be the ultimate team communications platform. According to reports, after being rebuffed in its $8 billion offer to buy Slack, Microsoft has built itself a Slack-like service that makes it easier for team members to not only communicate but also collaborate on projects.

Called Skype Teams, it shares similar features with Slack, including “channels,” where different groups within a team can chat, and “direct messages,” where team members can talk one-on-one. But Skype Teams may have on clear advantage over slack: A feature called “threaded conversations,” which allows users to reply to a message on a channel by clicking on a reply button. Anyone on the team can join the conversation whenever they want. It is a feature lacking in Slack, although it’s similar to Facebook Comments, where users can comment or reply to specific comments made on a post that they are interested in.

Skype Teams (image source: MSPoweruser)
Skype Teams (source: MSPoweruser)

Because this new service comes from the Skype brand, it shares similar features with the chat service such as teams being able to make video calls privately or in a channel and the sharing of files or notes. It adds a new feature for scheduling online meetings.

What will probably make Skype Team better than Slack or other chat-collaboration services is that it will work with other services, not to mention the service will integrate Office 365, making it a very useful tool for businesses. But Skype Team is not all about business as it also allows team members to be creative or goofy with “The Fun Picker” feature, which allows them to add emojis, GIFs from Giphy, memes, and other things.

Microsoft has made it easy to use by providing a sidebar where all the different features can be accessed. The sidebar features an Activity tab where users will see latest notifications, Chat tab where all the conversations can be seen, Teams tab where users can switch between teams, Meetings tab where scheduled meetings can be seen, and a Files tab where users will see all shared files from Skype Teams and OneDrive.

Slack has already made inroads into the small to medium-size business marketplace, and all indications are that a Skype-based competitor would be huge in the enterprise — if Microsoft hits the mark. Unlike some of the major failures in Microsoft’s past, the company’s recent history suggests it will turn out a hit, though adoption may take some time.

Photo credit: MSPowerUser

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