Microsoft is taking on Slack with Teams collaboration group chat

After several weeks of rumors and leaks, Microsoft has officially announced Microsoft Teams; a new Slack competitor that aims to make team-collaboration easy and quick. Powered by Office and Skype, Microsoft Teams is aimed at businesses using Office 365, and has a wide array of features.

Microsoft's goal with Teams is to empower every team to achieve more. With direct integration with OneDrive, Outlook, Skype, and other Office related products, making it an excellent choice over the likes of Slack and HipChat for those using Office 365.

From Microsoft's official Teams website: (opens in new tab)

Get flexible communication in the moment and keep everyone in the know. See content and chat history anytime, including team chats with Skype that are visible to the whole team. Private group chats are available for smaller group conversations.

Many will be ready to compare Microsoft Teams with Slack, another popular team-collaboration tool that boasts 4 million daily active users. Slack even went so far as to write an open letter to Microsoft, encouraging them to break into the team-collaboration market whilst simultaneously showing that they're worried for what Microsoft has to offer.

Office 365 is a huge service for Microsoft, and with Microsoft Teams, that service just gets better. We'll have more details on Microsoft's new collaboration service soon, so stay tuned at Windows Central for more.

Zac Bowden
Senior Editor

Zac Bowden is a Senior Editor at Windows Central. Bringing you exclusive coverage into the world of Windows 10 on PCs, tablets, phones, and more. Also an avid collector of rare Microsoft prototype devices! Keep in touch on Twitter: @zacbowden.

70 Comments
  • R.I.P Slack, they were right to be worried.
  • Nah, Slack still has a market. Not everyone has jumped on the Office365 subscription path. Also, there doesn't seem to be any way to collab with others outside of your organization (vendors, consultants) unless they join your domain. Also, what about the small office/home office market, or independents who come together on things like films, events, etc.? Microsoft being exclusive to the O365-subscribed, Enterprise paradigm, is leaving most of the market to Slack. I have an Office 365 subscription, but I'm not upgrading to get this. Who would I collab with? The people I use Slack and GroupMe with aren't going to upgrade either.
  • I think that is true. I could see Microsoft expanding it to other O365 business for communication and could snowball a little bit to get people using O365 to collaberate with bigger companies. But I think you are right. Slack for hobbiest, small companies, friends, etc, doesnt have a competitor yet. Because O365 isnt something they want to do.
  • In enterprise versions of Office 365 you can invite external users. I need to test this.
  • My guess is the the external users will still need to have the software available to them with their own O365 biz&up subscription.
  • 1. GroupMe is owned by Microsoft. It is a Skype product. I wouldn't be surprised if they aped a ton of functionality from GroupMe for use in Teams. In fact, Microsoft even markets GroupMe for use with Co-Workers. You're complaining that Teams doesn't target the market you're in, while using Microsoft's product that does. This is hilarious. Teams doesn't need to target consumer, prosumer, and indie/freelance markets because Microsoft already has products that cover those. 2. People who follow Tech Blogs have a warped view of Slack's reach and popularity in the greater world. It is not as ubiquitous as you seem to believe it is. Vendors and Consultants aren't all running to install a Slack client. By and large, they're still sending emails and making phone calls.
  • 1.  Your sense of humor is very strange.  I'm not complaining that Teams doesn't target the market I'm in. I'm suggesting that the market they are targeting have use scenarios that include those outside of Microsoft's target. This isn't a "target" situation in the real sense of the word. They are actively excluding the Small Office/Home Office, non-Enterprise size users.  GroupMe would be fine if one could collaborate WITH someone using Teams. I'm not sure why you don't get the difference. Oh yeah, you're too busy trying to be right and laugh at other people who actually are. 2.  I never used Slack until it was brought to me to use for the FIlm Festival that I'm a part of.  This wasn't a "warped view" from someone "follows tech blogs", it was someone on the business side of a large Hollywood studio.  I've also collaborated, as a consultant, with a company using Slack.  No, not all are running to install a Slack client, but those who are should consider the built-in, by design shortcoming of Teams when making that decision.
  • There is still Groupme for individuals and consumers.
  • Yes, but not the Freelance/Indie types that collaborate with companies. GroupMe isn't like a feature limited version that can interract with Teams. 
  • I want to read their letter.
  • I was reading an article this morning about how slack published a full page article in The Times I believe directed at Microsoft. It basically issued them caution, but also demonstrated that their is some fear as well.
  • But Microsoft already has GroupMe that does pretty much the same, doesn't it?
  • Yes, GroupMe and Yammer and Lync, which is now Skype for Business, and Outlook Groups, and probably three dozen other confusingly overlapping services. That's how Microsoft rolls.
  • GroupMe and Yammer are completely different from Teams. Different Target audience as well. GroupMe = Mostly For Students doing projects. Yammer = Business Social Network Teams = Powerful chat based collaboration tool for business's
  • I don't think you understand what the word "completely" means. They're not different just becuase they have different target audiences, and certainly not "completley different": all of those programs have overlapping features.
  • Apps tend to have overlapping features. The Xbox app has messaging. Should they have built the entire Xbox app inside skype? Facebook can do everything Instagram does. Yet people still use Instagram. Its about simplicity in what you want to accomplish. GroupMe does not need PowerBI integration because college students don't need that.
  • That analogy is, at best, a stretch. There's a huge difference between the Xbox app--an application for a gaming service--incorporating messaging capabilities (i.e. not the primary purpose of the service) and the huge redundancy in GroupMe, Skype, Lync (a.k.a. Skype for Business), Yammer, Outlook Groups, and Teams, all of which have overarching purposes that are much closer to each other. Instagram popped up as a competitor to Facebook. Facebook bought it because it was a threat. They didn't develop Instagram on their own and launch it to compete with themselves. You're missing the point of my original comment if you think that I was arguing that GroupMe should've been Teams.
  • Where did you read that target market for GroupMe?
  • https://www.groupme.com/en-US Scroll to the bottom: Family Friends *** Coworkers *** Nights Out
  • My question was in response to:
    GroupMe = Mostly For Students doing projects. Soooooo, "Nights Out" seems kind of out of place, but if it makes you feel better...
  • Yammer is a Social Network, similar to Google+ for Business.  I guess Facebook for work is in that market, now? GroupMe is largely analogous to Teams.  There is some feature disparity, of course, but Microsoft also markets GroupMe for use with CoWorkers.  However, it's not an Enterprise product.  Enterprise products have different considerations to factor in than those aimed at the wider market (like, security/encryption, data archival, and a whole host of other regulatory hurdles). Teams is basically GroupMe for the Enterprise. Enterprise does not equate to "business" by itself.  Enterprise implies completely different considerations were taken into account when designing the product, like what I mentioned above. This is why Office 365, Google Apps for Business, Skype for Business, etc. exist. Enterprise software is not always the way to go for every business, and "business" software is not always proper for enterprise use.  See... Not the same.  So I wish people would stop speaking of "Enterprise Software" in a way that positions it as the only choice for business, while acting like other choices are never proper for business without taking the specific requirements into consideration.
  • Teams is so much more than GroupMe for Enterprise.  There are many features of Teams that can be used by businesses of all sizes.  I'd use document collaboration and calendar sharing and instant video chatting and the more robust conversation timeline...IMMEDIATELY with people I work with who are all spread out. I'd also feel better knowing that if I had a client in a compan that used Teams, that I could join a channel/conversation that had to do with the project that I was working on.  
  • GroupMe while it has apps is designed for ad-hoc groups that includes messaging via SMS. I see teams as ongoing team organization discussions. GroupMe is not threaded but really beneficial for short-term group discussions like a group of people at a trade show together or a party planning amongst friends, etc. Certainly metaphorically all of these services overlap, they are meant for different uses.
  • exactly. GroupMe doesn't need PowerBI or Office integration. Its meant to be plain and simple.
  • I agree, I use GroupMe and I have never thought of it as a slack or yammer competitor.
  • Does anyone know if Office 365 Business Essentials includes this? We currently use Office 365 Home for our small business as we have under 5 employees, but if it's included with this plan it might be worth just getting this service.
  • Do you see the option to enable it? as per the video on the MS website.
  • I don't have the business Essentials service, I'm asking if it's supported under this plan.
  • It is supported.
  • It's for Office 365 Business and up.
    Also If you have less than 10 members in your company. It's probably not for you.
  • Untrue. I'd use it if I had 2 people in my company and/or with clients, consultants, vendors, etc. Slack is used like that, all the time.
  • Maybe I should have said, If you need to "collaborate" with less than 10 people. I don't see the need to use Slack or Teams. It's just overkill.
  • I like the idea of this a lot, but that's my thought too, why not just text or use any of the free options that can do the same for a small group? I like that Slack is free, but I love the Office Integration of Microsoft Teams.
  • A film festival that I work with has a small core team and we use Slack. I don't think there are umbrella rules to how all people work. The only thing I hate is the lack of threaded messages which would seem to be infuriating if we had many more people.
  • I'm just saying, Why would you use Teams if you only have a group of 3 people? You can use GroupMe or Skype or Whatsapp and be just as effective. Teams is meant for business's with more than 10 people. You can use it with 3 people. But its not where it shines.
  • I'm just saying, Why would you use Teams if you only have a group of 3 people? You can use GroupMe or Skype or Whatsapp and be just as effective. Teams is meant for business's with more than 10 people. You can use it with 3 people. But its not where it shines.
  • "Meant for" is subjective. Maybe I like the built in video conferencing and leveraging collaboration on documents, as examples. Teams of all sizes do these things. TEAMS hasn't yet shown where it shines. We'll see.
  • Teams shines in the Microsoft services ecosystem, the same way Office, OneDrive, Skype, SharePoint, Yammer, Outlook, SQL Server, Windows, etc. shine. That's the whole point of it: removing the need to use external tools - you just enable it in your Office 365 Settings and get on with your life. It's still covered by your Office Service and Support Contract, etc. You're completely ignoring the vast benefits of bundling, here. Additionally, once you get to the point where you have to Pay for Slack, the price is simply not competitive with Microsfot, considering what you get in an Office 365 Business or Business Premium subscription. Even still, there is no point in using Slack or Microsoft Teams for 2-3 people to collaborate. Use Skype and Office with OneDrive hosting the data. OneDrive and Office Support Collaboration natively, and you can have Skype up at the same time both on the Web as well as on your PC Skype does Video Conferencing. It does this even on smartphones, these days. I'm not saying there is no benefit to using slack in that situation. I'm just saying that nothing you cited is a benefit over existing solutions (Google Apps with Hangouts and Docs, Microsoft with Skype and Office...) Teams doens't need to show anyone anything. Slack has already done that. All Teams needs to do is deliver that to Office 365 customers at no additional cost, and it's going to win practically by default. This is an issue for these upstarts. Unless you were very early to the market like Dropbox, WhatsApp, Instagram, Pandora, etc.; you're likely to get classified as a feature and cloned/integrated/bundled by a larger competitor.
  • I'm not sure you are qualified to know exactly what everyone can or should use. You also seem to know how well Teams "shines" before any significant numbers of people are using it.  I assume that is just a prediction of yours. There are plenty of "points" to using collaboration software even if the organization is smaller in numbers.  In this new decentralized paradigm, I can be working with people who live anywhere. You mention bundling as a feature, but then go on to say that us pointless users should piece together that functionality from different solutions.  You're first statement is better. Teams should be included in all Office 365 configurations.  Otherwise, that's a barrier to your prediction that Team is "going to win practically by default".   
  • Am I the only one that getting confused by all these business apps? Instead of creating new apps, maybe MS should just improve the ones they already have. Why couldn't this app have been melted into Skype for business.
  • Or Yammer...
  • You are not.. I am just as confused as you are... just way too many chatting/collaboration tools... all i am hearing are those buzz app names... but they are essentially the same thing or similar at least.. 
  • I thought competition was healthy and motivating. If you are innovative, have a good product; what is there to fear? Mind you some competitors do try to use fear to unmotivated people to purchase anything not theirs. Sadly there are those that acquiesce without question. The joys of biased media power and trolls. :)
  • Re: HaloDust,
    Wow, is that what all the trolls on Windows Central are trying to do? I thought they were just chronically obsessed with their opposing platform and had to leave their home territory to evangelize.
    .
    I have seen Windows fans acquiesce, especially to the fear of not having the "cool" apps on Windows phone.
  • Slack still has an advantage here in that anyone can create a Slack channel to invite whomever they like to be a part of. Unless I am missing something, MS Teams is only for those with Office 365 Business accounts which makes the user base substantially smaller IMO for the general population with Office 365 Home subscriptions that would like to utilize it for community building and interaction.  
  • With some of the other acquisitions such as LinkedIn, I'm sure consolidation with these other services will grow the user base.
  • True and with this just being "Day One", we all know things can change suddenly at MS so a base, feature reduced version may open up to Office 365 Home users in the future.
  • Just use Skype and/or GroupMe? I don't see why Office 365 Home users would want this, or how it would be useful enough to waste the resources to do what you're talking about. For Home users, indies, etc. Microsoft simply needs a fairly large update to GroupMe, to integrate it into the Office/OneDrive/Skype ecosystem further and make sharing easier on it (does it even support Document Sharing natively?).  Also, app integrations would be useful. Microsoft has a solution for that market, but I doubt they care about what Home users do, besides subscribe to Office suites they probably don't need to begin with.
  • That's not a bad idea: implementing Teams into LinkedIn.
  • I totally agree. Though, Slack might be conserned about the high paying clients.
  • Slack will likely be losing a significant portion of their paying clients. I guess I should have specified that in my original comment.
  • Nah, people love Slack. They also aren't going to want to cut off collab with people outside of their organization.
  • It goes kinda like this: if you're already got Office 365 in your business, Teams is essentially free, but Slack is not. That Teams is a more functional product with a more coherent user interface on top of it does not help Slack's case there either.
  • It kinda goes like that, but it also goes deeper.  Slack is also free, even if you don't have Office 365 (Business version and up) and if you only want/need to talk to people in your organization.  You pay a smaller fee for some advanced features, but ANYONE can use Slack to collaborate with ANYONE else.  If my company pays for advanced Slack, I can still include the freelance graphic designer that's helping the marketing team on a project, for example.  Teams having a more (subjectively) coherent user interface is moot if you can't collaborate with the people you want to collaborate with.
  • There are 85 million O365 business customers and 5.8 million slack users. I don't think that particular edge case is actually a big deal for most businesses.
  • Well, I think you might be wrong. It's not really an "edge" case that companies work with people outside of the company.  You are also assuming a certain conversion rate of those 85 million O365 customers.  That traction hasn't been proven yet.
  • I don't think MS's goal here is to put Slack out of business, as much as cement their dominance with Office 365 for the business environment. It's as much, if not more, about making that Office 365 experience so good that things like G Suite aren't even considered, not just by the IT department, but also by the end users, as it is about having an alternative to Slack. If MS really viewed Slack as a potential threat or serious competitor, they'd just buy them. They're cheap enough, relatively. Making sure Google never makes any significant inroads into Office Productivity software and services is much more important to the company.
  • I really dont think this is a direct attempt at Slacks user base from Microsoft at the moment. If anything I beleive this is a way for Microsoft to extend the functionality of Office 365, since it is a growing business for them.
  • I'm also wondering about client communications, aka guest accounts. No idea if they're supported.
  • I read it is exclusively to Office 365 Business. As such, Slack will keep growing among my grad students who already prefer Google Office due to the price and good collaboration tools. Microsoft is loosing a great opportunity not expanding it to all 365 users.
  • MS should be more concerned they're losing people to Google Docs than they should be about losing them to Slack. If they expanded Teams to everyone on Office 365, your grad students would still be using Slack since, well, they're not using Office 365 if they prefer Google's offerings... Unless you think having Teams would suddenly convince them to stop using Google's Office products, and I'm deeply skeptical of that. Slack is provider agnostic, and will work with MS products just as well as Google ones. MS doesn't need to crush all market segments.
  • This is available fro offie 365 education users as well. Just enabled it for our domain.
  • Awesome.
  • Is this not the exact same UI as Discord?
  • I thought the same thing. Seems like Discord may have aped Slack a bit, though, and just developed a version "for gamers."
  • The biggest problem for Microsoft and Office 365 is the complete mess of where to find things.. Going into groups is a pain and now that i have enabled Microsoft Teams i have no clue where i should find this new feature?!? Also, why don't they just add all this new functionality to their Groups system instead? I fail to understand the difference between groups and teams..
  • took me a while too.. its teams.microsoft.com 
  • If the document sharing and search is better than Slack (i.e not very good) then Slack is going to be in trouble. I for one want something that integrates better with Windows 10, SharePoint, and OneDrive. Add Flow, PowerApps, and PowerBI, and Teams is going to be killer!
  • soz but im still waiting for skype to be done and finished, im not exited about this.  First they take away built in skype without actually allowing my pics or vids to be sent, then they reboot it to skype preview, although better, none of my mates can use it cause they are on single monitors and using skype prieview means they wont see the camera overlay as their isnt even one.  So their camera of me when multi tasking is covered.  then they cant even move their own image around the screen.  All these sinple things dont hide the even worst desicion of not including any camera settings, theres no audio settings in the app either.  I dont get why they dont put their power into completeing and finishing skype.  they cant manage one job in 2 years why is micrsoft atempting many?  Their lack of speed in creating skype a finished product is a source of embarrisment amoungst most of my friends who unlike me are now all android and mac users.  Micrsoft need to sort this situation out.  Oh gestures mobile wouldnt hurt too.  After all 2 years and all they can manage is mute function in touch menu..  2 years and no gestures or fully working skype, thats coming from micrsoft a software company.  Personally i love windows 10 on both mobile and desktop but to slow progressionon their very own app software is become a big joke.  I do feel micrsoft is a hardware company mainly now.  plse leave slack alone micrsoft i dont want you too ruin that by leaving out the features were all used to and have been used too, just like skype still lacks.  I really dont want to sound negative as i love windows mobile 8.1 and like windows 10, apart from hamburger android menu, i think cortana is the best too and love the desktop intergration and live tiles but even i have had one too many years of waiting fro microsft to get its act together.  theres a reason paypal and here maps left windows 10 recently and its the same reason i bought a s7 edge, i didnt want to but micrsoft keeps demonstrating lack of suport in its own software and in order to suceed, whioch i want micrsoft to do they need to sort out these glareing issues and not go trashing other apps like slack.
  • Re: aka munchy23,
    Respectively, the comment is very hard to read. There seems to be some good points, that I agree with, though.
    I especially hate the "goggle" hamburger that is unreachable when using the phone one handed.
    Best Wishes.