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Microsoft Teams Preview Chat-based Workspace in Office 365 Launches

The rumored Slack competitior Microsoft Teams Preview, a new chat-based workspace in Office 365 that brings together people, conversations and content, along with the tools that teams need so they can easily collaborate to achieve more, was unveiled at an Office event on Nov. 2.

Microsoft Teams preview, built from the ground up on the Office 365 global, secure cloud is available in 181 countries and in 18 languages. It’s currently only released to commercial customers with Office 365 Enterprise or Business plans. With general availability expected in the first quarter of 2017, Kirk Koenigsbauer announced.

The company notes, that Teams will be available to 85 million active monthly users.

The new chat workspace integrates with all the familiar Office apps and capabilities, such as “SharePoint document libraries, OneNote, Planner, Power BI, team calendar, Skype” and more. It works in the browser and Microsoft Teams apps are “available for Windows, Mac, Android and iOS platforms.”

Also, Microsoft Teams Developer Preview program announced today, allow devs create Tabs and show their web experience directly within Teams, so users can instantly access service in the right context, and collaborate around its content.

Microsoft notes, that in addition to early partners, they will addd over 150 partners at general availability.

Additionally, Bots that show you experience in chat can also be written. Teams can then engage with your service via queries and quick action. Finally, send Connector notifications in channels so teams can easily get updates from your service.

Connectors available including many popular CI/CD related tools. The Connector configurations allow an easily pluggable extension for Teams to integrate notifications in to discussions. Among the available connectors, there’s is Incoming Webhook, that provides an easy solution to post notifications from any scripting language through JSON formatted web service call.

“This creates an opportunity to integrate datacenter and cloud operations practices with real time discussions.”

To add a Connector:

  1. Open the Channel and click the More Options button (which appears as three dots at the top right of the window).
  2. Select Connectors.
  3. Scroll down to Incoming Webhook and click the Add button.
  4. Give the connector a name and image of your choosing and finally click Create.
  5. A new unique URI is automatically generated. Copy this URI string to your clipboard.
  6. If you ever need to retrieve it in the future you can do so from this same configuration area of Teams. Select the Connector and then click the Manage button to reveal the URI string.

Microsoft also showed off T-Bot and Who-Bot as part of demonstration:

Where, T-Bot is a embedded assistant that teaches you how to use Microsoft Teams. The presentation included a demo of asking “How do I make a new channel?” It brought a card up that offered a Help topic.

And, the Who-Bot is a quick reference to team members that you need. Typing in “Who knows about ticket sales” will not only result in members that mention the topic often but will also offer insight on how to contact them via phone, message, email, or more.

Microsoft Teams Unveiled

For chat, by default, Team conversations are visible to entire team, but there is the ability for “private discussions” is available too. With Skype is deeply integrated, teams can participate in voice and video conferences. And, everyone can add personality to their digital workspace with emojis, stickers, GIFs and custom memes to make it their own.

Teams is a hub for teamwork, provide everything needed for collaboration right in Office 365 such as Word, Excel, PowerPoint, SharePoint, OneNote, Planner, Power BI and Delve are all built into Teams, as well Microsoft Graph and Office 365 Groups.

Additionally, people will be able to customize their workspace with rich extensibility and open APIs (available at general availability):

  • Quick access to frequently used documents and cloud services via Tabs
  • Notifications and updates from third-party services like Twitter or GitHub, using same Connector model as Exchange
  • Full support for Microsoft Bot Framework help bring intelligent first- and third-party services into your team environment

Of course, Microsoft is providing advanced “enterprise security and compliance features” such as:

  • Data encrypted at rest and in trasit
  • Key compliance standards including EU Model Clauses, ISO 27001, SOC 2, HIPAA and more
  • Multi-factor authentication for enhanced protection
  • Served from global hyper-scale network of data centers
  • Automatically provisioned and centrally managed as part of Office 365

Additionally, Microsoft also share stats acroos the Office 365 universal toolkit:

  • Exchange according to Gartner has “80 percent share of companies using cloud email with revenue above $10 billion.”
  • SharePoint provides intranets and content management solutions to more than 200,000 organizations and 190 million people.
  • Yammer social network for work, enabling cross-company discussions for 85 percent of the Fortune 500.
  • Skype for Business provides real-time voice, video and conferencing and hosts more than 100 million meetings a month.

In the video below you can take an in-depth look at Microsoft Teams with Dan Stevenson, demonstrates how Microsoft Teams brings together people, conversations, content and the tools teams need with a real focus on teams, and built around chat.

The video also walk us through the process to launch Microsoft Teams in Office 365 in the browser, how to download an app and everything you can do within the apps for the desktop and mobile.

Dan also demonstrates the specifics on how to get Microsoft Teams running using the Office 365 admin center and controls available for configuring and managing experience for your organization.

Update 11/5: Watch Satya unveil Microsoft Teams in this video:

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