Introducing Microsoft Teams

This blog post isn’t specifically about Skype for Business but rather a newly released Microsoft Office 365 Team Collaboration application that has many similar Skype for Business collaboration features, and integrates with Skype for Business Online.

What is Microsoft Teams?

A new Office 365 Team Collaboration Experience (e.g. new Office 365 application) based on chat-based workspaces that brings together people, conversations, content, and tools that teams commonly use to get their work done.

It is built on-top of Office 365 (O365 groups are the pillar) and has built-in integration with:

  • The Microsoft Office Suite (i.e. Word, Excel, etc..) for content creation/sharing/viewing/editing
  • OneNote for content collaboration and storing content
  • Skype/Skype for Business Online integration for instant messaging
  • PowerBI for data visualizations / dashboards
  • SharePoint Online for file-based collaboration
  • Yammer for activity
  • 3rd party collaboration systems including Twitter, GitHub, and popular internet intelligence BOTS 
    • 85 BOTS
    • 70 different connectors to other systems (seamless integration with Zendesk was demo’ed)
  • Delve and the Office 365 Graph for contextual and data relevancy & Intelligence
  • Microsoft Planner for task management

Microsoft Teams is integrated and powered with Azure AD identities which is great from a security and single-sign-on perspective.

It will be available in all O365 Business and Enterprise subscriptions (likely an add-on I assume).  Currently it is free with an Office 365 Business or Enterprise subscription (not Family or Consumer).


If you want to try it for yourself, it is available in as Preview in most existing Office 365 tenants. Sign into your Office 365 Administrator portal and navigate to Settings | Services & add-ins as shown here:



Tenant administrators can control what types of collaboration Microsoft Teams leverage in their tenant as shown here:

 

Once it is enabled, you can use it by either going to http://teams.microsoft.com, or by downloading the Team’s Desktop App (available at that URL).

Chat at the Core

Many successful collaboration tools such as Slack, have group chat at their core. Microsoft Teams are no different. It leverages chat capabilities to provide threaded, persistent, and private 1-on-1 chat capabilities.


A Team Hub which Brings Together Many Office 365 Services

As mentioned above, Microsoft Teams brings together several Office 365 collaboration services to provide teams with a customizable hub to collaborate.



You can see how easily Microsoft Teams brings together Conversations, Files, Notes, Task & Project Management and 3rd party integration (here Zendesk is being shown) in an easily accessible toolbar across the top.


The integration with OneNote should be a really powerful feature. It was demo’ed in the release webcast:


Here is what the new Conversations view looks like. Question – what other popular collaboration software uses the "channel" concept? :-)


When will it be Released?

It is available today as customer preview in 181 countries and 18 languages. GA will be in Q1 of 2017.

 

What is the Integration Story with Skype for Business?

When Microsoft Teams was first announced, I assumed all of the chat features was leveraging SfB Online under the covers. This appears to not be the case and it is using a different technology stack for both the chat and real-time communication features.  More on this later.

Currently a Microsoft Teams user can instant message a SfB Online user and see their Presence (although this currently seems unstable).

References

Introducing Microsoft Teams—the chat-based workspace in Office 365

Microsoft Office Dev Center – Developer Preview for Microsoft Team

TEAMS + SKYPE FOR BUSINESS – Excellent write-up on the SfB integration by Richard Brynteson

Microsoft just brought back the Bill Gates era with its new plan to take down Slack – great article on Gates involvement in Microsoft Teams

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