Microsoft Readying Skype Teams to Challenge Slack: Report

Microsoft is reportedly working on a product called Skype Teams, putting it on a collision course with the fast-growing collaboration platform, Slack.

Microsoft skype

Should Slack watch its back?

Earlier this year, there were rumblings that Microsoft had considered snapping up the team messaging and collaboration platform for as much as $8 billion. However, that proposed deal met a swift end after it failed to get the OK from CEO Satya Nadella and board member Bill Gates.

Now it appears that Microsoft is developing its own Slack competitor, according to a report from MSPoweruser. The service, dubbed Skype Teams, is a messaging app that delivers a Slack-like functionality, but with a twist.

Skype Teams will enable users to conduct chats with groups and individuals much like Slack does presently. A major difference is a Threaded Conversations feature that will enable users to reply directly to individual messages.

Microsoft even has its own take on Slack's Giphy integration, which enables users to spice up their conversations with funny or attention-grabbing animated GIFs. In Skype Teams, users can add memes, GIFs from Giphy, emojis and other content using a feature called the "Fun Picker," stated the report.

Naturally, Skype Teams will also deliver some of its namesake's hallmark communications features. Users can place both group and one-on-one video calls and book online meetings in advance. Earlier this year, Microsoft updated its Outlook apps for iOS and Android to allow users to schedule Skype calls. This summer, the company launched a free Skype Meetings product that enables small business to conduct video conferences with up to three attendees (10 attendees during the 60-day introductory period).

Finally, Skype Teams will include Office 365 integration, and presumably, support for Skype Bots. Announced during this year's Build conference in San Francisco, Skype Bots are part of Microsoft's attempt to usher in the "Conversations as a Platform" era with intelligent chatbots and cloud-based machine-learning technologies. Currently, there are over 30 bots available for Skype, including Foursquare, Hipmunk and StubHub.

In the meantime, Slack is rapidly growing its user base.

This spring, the company announced that it had 3 million daily active users on its platform, 2 million of which had connected simultaneously. "Less than a year ago, we hit 1 million daily users, and in October, we celebrated when 1 million were connected at once, so when both of those numbers got substantially bigger this month," wrote the company in a May 25 blog post.

Slack is also working on building its own ecosystem. In July, the company announced that 11 companies had received investments from its Slack Fund. According to Slack, the fund had doled out nearly $2 million. Separately, venture capital firms had kicked in an additional $30 million in the funded companies.

And that's just the tip of the iceberg. "Companies funded by Slack represent only a tiny slice of the broader Slack platform — there are now over 600 apps in our App Directory, 200 added in the last two months, and 90 percent of paid teams on Slack actively use apps," wrote the company in a Jul. 19 blog post.

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 network of...