Microsoft Unveils Teams, a Rival to Slack Collaboration Platform

Microsoft takes on Slack with the preview release of its new Team collaboration experience in Office 365.

Microsoft Teams collaboration platform

Microsoft on Nov. 2 took the wraps off its new team collaboration service for Office 365 called Teams, confirming rumors that the company was preparing its own platform to rival the popular Slack platform.

Rumblings of a Slack rival from Redmond, Wash., began to surface earlier this year after Microsoft had reportedly considered buying the cloud-based messaging and collaboration company for as much as $8 billion. In September, details of a Skype Teams app with Slack-like functionality emerged.

Today, Microsoft's CEO, Satya Nadella (pictured), made it official.

"Office 365 is the broadest toolkit and platform for creation, communication and collaboration," said Nadella in a statement. "Microsoft Teams adds a new experience to Office 365 as the chat-based workspace designed to empower the art of teams."

Anticipating the Microsoft Teams reveal, which took place in New York City, Slack took out a full-page ad in The New York Times.

"Building a product that allows for significant improvements in how people communicate requires a degree of thoughtfulness and craftsmanship that is not common in the development of enterprise software," read part of Slack's "letter" to Microsoft. "How far you go in helping companies truly transform to take advantage of this shift in working is even more important than the individual software features you are duplicating."

Tight security and tough privacy protections are among the features Microsoft its betting will resonate among its enterprise customers.

"Data is encrypted in transit and at rest. Like all our commercial services, we have a transparent operational model with no standing access to customer data," Kirk Koenigsbauer, corporate vice president of the Microsoft Office group, wrote in a blog post. "Microsoft Teams will support key compliance standards including EU Model Clauses, ISO 27001, SOC 2, HIPAA and more."

Patrick Moorhead, president and principal analyst at Moor Insights and Strategy, said that releasing Teams, particularly now, was a smart move on Microsoft's part.

"Now Office 365 supports a persistent chat workflow in addition to the local or web-based PC, Mac, iPad, iPhone, Android tablet and Android phone platforms with a more traditional experience," Moorhead said. "IT and small businesses will love that they don't need to bring in and support multiple platforms.

Slack, meanwhile, may have to watch its back. "If Microsoft can keep up with Slack's connectors and maintain their Office 365 pricing model, Slack could likely be at risk of decreased growth as they no longer have a giant utility lead," Moorhead added.

In an email statement sent to eWEEK, Chris Miller, chief technology innovation officer at Avanade, a business IT and managed services provider, called today's decision "a potential game-changer. From an IT decision-maker point of view, this removes the headache of certifying and integrating a new product allowing for much easier and faster adoption of the service."

Teams seems tailor-made for Office 365 customers and the productivity platform's 70 million-plus users. "No other tool offers seamless interoperability into Office 365 and provides an intuitive space for team collaboration, rather than overall enterprise communication."

Pedro Hernandez

Pedro Hernandez

Pedro Hernandez is a contributor to eWEEK and the IT Business Edge Network, the network for technology professionals. Previously, he served as a managing editor for the Internet.com network of...