Microsoft Just Launched a Slack Competitor Called “Teams”

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Microsoft today launched Teams, a chat-based productivity tool to bolster collaboration among, well, teams.

“How to assemble a high performance team and setting them up for success is one of the central pursuits for any organization,” Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella said at a product launch event in New York. “No two teams are the same, no two projects are the same.”

If the concept sounds familiar, that’s because it is: look no further than Slack, a white-hot startup that has been doing exactly this for multiple years now.

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Teams, of course, has the benefit of Microsoft at its back and the obvious integration with tools like Word and Excel—indeed, the platform will be considered part of the Office 365 suite. Which perhaps is why Slack was nervous enough to buy a full-page textual ad in The New York Times that passive aggressively challenges Microsoft to make Teams a legitimate competitor. The ad seems poorly conceived: a wall of text no one will read, “Microsoft” in huge font, and an undercurrent of fear.

“Microsoft Teams is an entirely new experience that brings together people, conversations and content—along with the tools that teams need—so they can easily collaborate to achieve more,” says Kirk Koenigsbauer of Microsoft. “We built Microsoft Teams because we see both tremendous opportunity and tremendous change in how people and teams get work done.”

It’s far too early to tell how Teams will impact Slack and what the latter might innovate to stay ahead, but the space certainly just got a lot more interesting to watch.

Microsoft Teams’ general availability is expected in the first quarter of 2017.

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