10 Things You Need To Know About Microsoft Teams

Microsoft's New Collaboration Vision

On Wednesday Microsoft unveiled Microsoft Teams, a "chat-based workspace" that's aimed at improving collaboration within organizations. Microsoft Teams will become part of Office 365 and will include integrations with other apps in the Office 365 suite. While Teams is targeted at rivaling chat-based collaboration software such as Slack, Microsoft is hoping that its new tool will catch on by offering more features and, also, because it'll be part of the software that so many businesses already use. Microsoft Teams is inspired by "the art of how teams work together," Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella said while introducing the product on Wednesday. "This is an experience that truly empowers that art form of how teams work, and how teams drive success." In the following slides, we lay out the 10 key things to know about Microsoft Teams.


The central feature of Microsoft Teams is a space for group chat, similar to Slack. Chat in Microsoft Teams is both "persistent" -- it's saved so you can go back and review it later -- and also "threaded," meaning that different branches can be broken off from the main conversation to minimize confusion. Directing messages to certain users will be accomplished using the "@" symbol as on Slack, Twitter and Facebook. By default, conversations are visible to the whole team, though private chat is an option as well.


Collaboration within Microsoft Teams can be customized through the creation of specific channels for certain topics. Channels can be further refined by using the Tabs feature, which points team members to relevant applications and documents. Notifications and updates from third-party services -- Twitter and GitHub are two examples cited by Microsoft -- can also be enabled within Microsoft Teams.

App Integration

One key advantage that Microsoft Teams would seem to have over alternatives is the tight integration with other Office 365 applications. That means that users, for instance, can open a Word doc within Teams. Users can create Tabs for key applications like SharePoint or OneNote, as well as third-party apps. Examples shared by Microsoft include Zendesk, Hootsuite and Asana.

Open Meetings

One feature of Microsoft Teams aims to replicate the experience of employees huddling around a desk for a quick face-to-face meeting. Within Teams, users will be able to see that an "Open Meeting" is taking place -- over Skype video -- which they can jump into.


Interaction with bots is a centerpiece of Microsoft Teams. Two bots introduced by Microsoft include T Bot, which helps answer questions about how to use the product, and WhoBot, which can answer questions about co-workers. For instance, users will be able to ask WhoBot a question such as "Who knows about ticket sales?" -- and WhoBot will be able to pull up any co-workers who've been involved in conversations on the topic.

Fun Stuff

Taking a cue from Slack, Microsoft Teams aims to make it easy to add emojis, gifs and custom stickers into conversations. During its demo, Microsoft showed off a feature for creating meme-style content within Microsoft Teams itself.


Microsoft Teams will be available in a mobile version, Microsoft said, with versions for iOS, Android and, of course, Windows 10 Mobile. Microsoft's demo of Teams on a mobile device showed an interface strongly resembling Facebook's mobile app.

Security And Compliance

Microsoft Teams will bring "the security of Office 365," the company said -- with data encryption "at all times" and "covered by a transparent operational model with no standing access to customer data." Microsoft noted that Teams would meet compliance standards including HIPAA BAA, ISO 27001, ISO 27018 and SSAE 16 SOC 1 and 2 report.

"Digital Cockpit"

Speaking during the Microsoft event, Accenture chief information officer Andrew Wilson (pictured) said his company had done a major deployment of Microsoft Teams. "I think Teams will be a digital cockpit" for organizations, he said. Wilson said many teams are trying to do too much over email and that productivity is suffering as a result. He sees Microsoft Teams as a solution to email overload and also as a way to particularly enhance collaboration for teams with remote members.


Microsoft said that Teams is available now as a customer preview and will be available in the first quarter of 2017. Microsoft Teams will be included in all Office 365 Business and Enterprise suites, the company said. IT administrators will be able to enable Microsoft Teams from inside the Office 365 admin center, Microsoft said.