MICROSOFT HAS delivered a tooth-pulling hour of flannel launching Microsoft Teams, the firm's latest afterthought to the Office 365 suite.
Microsoft launched the new product during a keynote in which CEO Satya Nadella used the word 'tool' seven times in about a minute.
Microsoft Teams is available immediately as a rival to Slack, which has cornered the market in many digital-first businesses.
Slack got its defence in early, taking out a full-page newspaper ad summarising its latest blog post, writing an open letter to Microsoft welcoming the competition and slyly taking a dig at the firm for playing catch-up with a little touch of 'told you so'.
The new software is an extension of Office 365 Groups, combining subject-threaded chat (where did they get that idea?), Skype, Word, PowerPoint, Excel, SharePoint and a whole bunch of other Microsoft products integrated with options for plug-ins from third parties such as Twitter and Dropbox.
Microsoft Graph is aboard to help intelligently find the data you need in context-aware situations. There’s Bots too, including Who Bot which allows you to search the graph to find more information about your collaborators.
Most important of all, it supports emojis and GIFs. So that’s alright then. Skype is deeply integrated, but there was some expectation that this would be an extension in Skype rather than Microsoft Office.
"We built Microsoft Teams because we see both tremendous opportunity and tremendous change in how people and teams get work done," Microsoft said. "Teams are now more agile and organizational structures more flat to keep communications and information flowing.
"With Microsoft Teams, we aspire to create a more open, digital environment that makes work visible, integrated and accessible - across the team - so everyone can stay in the know."
The service is available in 181 countries as a preview, with general availability in the first quarter of 2017 to Enterprise users of the Office suite. Companion apps for iOS, Android and Kevin are also available.
A developer preview programme is open for people who want to start creating plug-ins. Many big names, like Zendesk and ToDoIst, already have plug-ins good to go.
The important take away is that Microsoft has created a successful way for people to talk to each other without actually having worry about things like someone insisting on having a large fan on all the time or stealing the milk. The future is ignoring each other as much as possible. µ
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