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Mar 15, 2017 02:23 PM EDT

Microsoft Teams Announces New Office 365 Integrations; Gets More Serious On Slack Competition

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Microsoft Teams is now available for free to all Office 365 users providing access to a suite of cloud services and apps, which can be on the web or a native app for Windows, Android, and iOS. Mircosoft may be late in the game dominated by Slack, but it leverages on a wider Office portfolio integration that already gives the competition cause for concern.

Microsoft Teams is targeting all 85 million monthly active Office 365 users following a notable success with 50,000 organizations who have signed up to try the new service and those who opted to stay on. Organizations which are now using Teams include Accenture, Conoco-Phillips, Alaska Airlines, Deloitte, J.B. Hunt, Expedia, J. Walter Thompson, Trek Bicycle, Hendrick Motorsports, and Three UK. Though may be late in the game given the rapid growth of Slack and other similar services like FB's Workplace and Atlassian's Hipchat, Microsoft is banking on its huge user base and primarily pitching its Office integration to entice organizations to try out Microsoft Teams.

Slack has already established a good head start with more than 5 million daily active users as well as 1.5 million paid subscriptions, but Microsoft is unfazed. Teams leverages on the "low friction aspect" of the new service since Office 365 users are already using Microsoft apps like Word, Excel, OneNote, PowerPoint, SharePoint and Power BI so the transition should be familiar and convenient. Moreover, the Microsoft approach may easily find a niche as Teams have been throwing in a lot of tools and options since day one, which is way back in November when it launched, Tech Crunch reported.

The basic interface does not deviate much from the basics in workplace collaboration though the central theme of work-fun is evident with the retro office stickers, giphy picker, and editable memes similar to Slack. Evidently, the creative team behind Microsoft Teams has been playing attention to the competition but also on the "fun" side so Office 365 users may expect changes and tweaks that make work more fun, The Verge has learned. Moreover, Teams users may also expect future updates that include external guest access to invite friends that do not work in the same office to use the channels as well as a richer outlook and updates to mobile apps.

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