Public Preview of Microsoft Teams Now Available

This week, Microsoft announced the worldwide public preview of Microsoft Teams, a new “chat-based workspace” for Office 365 users.  Now available for preview in 19 different languages across Windows, Mac, Android, and iOS platforms, Microsoft Teams will put a new spin on cross-company communication. Along with other Office 365 applications we know and love, Teams will leverage the functionalities of SharePoint, such as Document Libraries.

How Microsoft Teams Stacks Up to Slack

By now, I am sure that you have heard that Microsoft Teams begs some stark similarities to another popular service, Slack. While many businesses have been utilizing Slack for informal communication (as it offers a familiar user experience to that of a social media platform), Slack can be more time consuming than not. As a service outside of other collaboration platforms, such as Office 365, there is no way to easily transport files, without going through a maze of downloading and uploading.

Also, if you and your team are dedicated Slack users, then I am sure you have experienced that overwhelming feeling when you take a break and then log in to find more than 100 messages to read with only 20% relevant information. With many avenues to find the right information you need (including access to a SharePoint Document Library with all your Channel’s files), Microsoft Teams aim to eliminate a lot of those problems for Office 365 collaborators. Teams provide a central hub for users to optimize the ROI of their favorite applications in one place.

Channels and Chatting

Like Slack, Teams provide a central portal of, “fast, friendly, and informal” communication that simulates an in-person conversation online. Teams offer a way to organize your messages, post news and announcements, and @mention team members (just like on Facebook and Twitter). Also, if you feel that words can’t explain what you want to convey, there is an option to insert some Emojis, Stickers, and Gifs.

For more formal and attention-grabbing messages, you can utilize rich text, such as italics, bold fonts, bullets, and numbering. You can also have one-on-one conversations with internal users while still having access to all the files, notes, activity feeds, and pins you need.

Host Online Meetings

Want to schedule an impromptu meeting? Easy. Teams integrated a video functionality so you can quickly start a meeting with anyone and everyone in a selected group. Once you start a meeting within that channel, the members of your group receive a notification that a meeting is in-process. Each video call is documented for future reference (if you like to multitask during meetings, then this is will probably become you favorite Teams component).

File Sharing

The best part of Teams is its relationship to SharePoint. Every time you or your team members upload a file into a channel that file automatically uploads into a SharePoint Document Library. Later, if you feel that a file or document is particularly useful for other members, you can pin it to the top of File page for quicker review and response times.

Teams Administration and Controls

Teams, built on top of Office 365 Groups, are easy to manage right out-of-the-box. If some of the features are not suitable for your organization, then your IT Admin can easily control what functionalities and features can be turned off and on. For instance, if you want to keep the conversations strictly work-related, then you can turn off extraneous Emojis, Stickers, and Gifs. You can also manage permissions of who can start a team, channel, and more.

Connectors

The possibilities are endless with Teams, especially with the ability to link to external services. This integration is available via Connectors, such as visual studio, Github, and Twitter. With Teams, you can stay up-to-date on notifications, news, and updates in some of your favorite channels.

Getting Started with Teams

While this new application seems very promising, don’t go dropping Slack just yet, most early adopters of Microsoft Teams are sure to find a few issues. Remember, Microsoft Teams only went into Public Preview this week and is not ready for general release, so in due time I am sure that most of the kinks will be addressed and all the bells and whistles fine-tuned. Until that time, I suggest you check out the Public Preview and start experimenting to find out how it can fit into your organization work dynamic.

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