In November last year, we wrote about Microsoft Teams, then in preview, and outlined some of its features. The product is now in general availability for Office 365 customers – and with more than 100 new features having been introduced by Microsoft following preview feedback and comment.
Developed to meet the demands of today’s working environment – and which can involve home, mobile, flexible and shift working – Teams has been designed to make collaboration easier through grouping together people, messaging, and content along with familiar Office tools.
Threaded, persistent chat means that all team members remain engaged. Messages are posted in real time, with conversations for future browse and search. Chats are visible to everyone in a team as the default, but private conversations can also be created.
Skype is integrated for voice and video conferencing, and the Meetings feature has made organising appointments and scheduling meetings easier and simpler.
Microsoft reports that updates made since the preview was released include:
- audio calling from mobile devices
- video on Android (and to be available soon for iOS and Windows Phone)
- the facility to email a channel, with attachments
Teams is far more than a messaging forum, however, as it puts in one place to make for easy, instant access the Office tools and applications, Word, Excel, PowerPoint, Outlook, SharePoint, OneNote, Planner, Power BI* and Delve.
Tabs, connectors and bots give further scope for building the best workplace to meet team need. Microsoft report that there are over 150 integrations available – or that will be available shortly – including bots from hipmunk, Growbot and ModuleQ.
Among features to be rolled out at some stage in the future is SAP SuccessFactors, to support employees and managers in tracking goals and performance, and Trello will help teams with project development.
Mark Terry, Head of Marketing at Cobweb, says, “With the business growing and us working across brands, teams, locations and time zones, having an interactive and collaborative digital hub that integrates all the tools we use during the day is a huge benefit.
“The team have a much better sense of what is happening using Microsoft and non-Microsoft apps – for example pulling in Google Analytics, the whole team see how we are performing and comment in real-time.
“The desktop and mobile Teams application is lightning fast to navigate and access personal OneDrive and group SharePoint files. For me bringing together the various Office 365 tools further demonstrate the value Microsoft are providing.
“I am looking forward to seeing what the next updates bring, working with external teams like agencies and vendors being a big part of this.”
According to Microsoft, there are now more than 85 million Office 365 users, and Teams – available in 19 languages – is now automatically provisioned within Office 365.
Microsoft report that the preview version has been used by more than 50,000 organisations, including Accenture, Alaska Airlines, Deloitte, and Expedia.