Video: Microsoft Teams’ tricks should make Slack nervous
At Ignite in September, Microsoft officials said to expect a roadmap in early October outlining its timeline for migrating Skype for Business users to its Microsoft Teams group-chat service. On Oct. 24, Microsoft provided the first few items on that roadmap.
A quick recap of what’s happening: Microsoft plans eventually (we don’t know when) to get its Skype for Business users to migrate completely over to its Teams service. This won’t be a drastic move. In fact, Microsoft is introducing a new version of its on-premises Skype for Business Server in the latter half of 2018.
Here’s what we know, timing-wise, as of today:
Messaging: Microsoft will supplement the persistent, private, and group chat capabilities already in Teams with additional capabilities by the end of the second calendar quarter of 2018. These coming features will include screen sharing during chat and federation between companies.
(A semi-related aside: If you’re wondering when Microsoft plans to add the second piece of its Guest access to Teams — going beyond the current Azure Active Directory requirement and instead signing up via a Microsoft Account — officials won’t say. I asked again yesterday and got a no comment. In September, Microsoft execs said to expect this MSA Guest access to arrive “in the next few weeks.”)
Meetings: Teams already offers screen sharing, meeting chats captured in the channel after the meeting and a preview of audio conferencing. Microsoft plans to add meeting room support with Skype Room Systems and cloud video interoperability, allowing third-party meeting room devices to connect to Team meetings by the end of the second calendar quarter of 2018.
Calling: Teams already has a number of calling capabilities. More are coming by the end of the second calendar quarter of 2018, including the ability to use existing telco voice lines to activate calling services in Office 365.
I asked Microsoft when some of its advanced calling features, like Cloud PBX (known from now on as “Phone System”), PSTN Conferencing (now called “Audio Conferencing”), and PSTN Calling (now dubbed “Calling Plan”) would come to Teams, PSTN Conferencing is now in preview and Calling Plan is coming by the end of Q4 2017. These kinds of features are key components of the high-end Office 365 E5 plan.
“We encourage all customers who have not yet done so to start using Teams today, either stand alone or side-by-side with Skype for Business,” say Microsoft officials. This TechNet post has lots of documentation on planning for and using Teams.
Microsoft’s new ‘Slack competitor’ has improved dramatically since the preview, and new features are arriving regularly. Where it shines is threaded chat, easy video meetings and superb integration with other Office 365 tools.