A few weeks back, it was uncovered that Microsoft was working on a new application under the Skype umbrella that would take on Slack. The product, called Skype Teams, is in development and the company is gearing up to start testing it with select clients around the globe.
The application has been in development for roughly 18 months and the company is now testing it privately with a select group of testers. The current plan, at this time, is to expand the beta tests in November with a full release in January; these plans could change at any time but are the current roadmap for release according to sources who asked not to be named.
Skype Teams will be part of Office 365 and will be available to anyone who is already subscribed to a business plan, likely starting with E3 SKU. Skype Teams integrates deeply with your Office 365 content as well, with the ability to share your calendar inside the app as well as join meetings too.
To no surprise, this application is built on the company’s new cloud platform and very well may be the future of Skype for Business. Make no mistake, Microsoft is going for the jugular on Slack with this product as many corporate customers already use Office 365 and with this product being bundled into that service, there will be no need to pay for Slack.
Because this application has been in development for over a year, early previews are of a higher quality than we typically see from preview/beta applications. Those who are able to test the application say that it works without any major hiccups and that you can tell the team has dedicated a significant amount of resources to make sure that when SkypeTeams launches, it is on par with Slack.
Microsoft also plans to support a wide variety of platforms with the company listing Windows, OS X, iOS, Android and Windows Phone.
Microsoft has been positioning itself as a productivity focused company for several years and many have wondered why they never purchased Slack as it fits nicely into their portfolio. It is said that executives inside the company tried to convince senior management to make a bid for the company last year but those efforts were shot down in favor of internal products.
Seeing as we now have a better look at Skype Teams and how the company will position the product within its Office 365 portfolio, it makes sense why Microsoft did not buy Slack. The big outstanding question is how Microsoft will convince companies who are on Slack to move to Skype Teams and if it will be possible to bring that Slack data and ingest it into the new Skype product.