Microsoft Teams Updates
Team chat's the new email inbox and water-cooler all in one, the place where you chat about random things, share important news with your team, and discuss your project ideas in wide-ranging conversations. Then it's time to actually get work done, so you switch apps and write your project proposals, schedule events, plan projects, code, design, and more in your other productivity apps.
Or, you could chat and get work done at the same time in Microsoft Teams, one of the newest team chat apps. Microsoft has offered a wide range of chat apps over the years, from MSN Messenger and Skype chat to more professional tools like Lync and Yammer chat. Microsoft Teams is the software giant's latest take on a team communication app that combines everything Microsoft's learned from their chat apps with their experience in building professional Office tools—and it shows.
In some ways it's what you'd expect from any team chat app. It's an app where everyone in your company can chat publicly in groups or privately with direct messages—and it works with Skype, so you can message Skype contacts or send them an email if they're offline right from Teams. Need to make a call? The camera icon will start a Skype call with your team right from your chats—and you can schedule meetings with a built-in Office 365 calendar. Microsoft Teams includes chat apps for your desktop and phone, notifications if someone @mentions you, and GIFs to keep things fun. You can reply directly to someone's message in a chat for threaded conversations, click a thumbs-up button to like a message, or use emoji in your messages.
That's where the differences start to show up. Microsoft Teams is organized around teams, so instead of creating a ton of channels to organize conversations, you'll first create teams and add channels under teams. Add everyone you want to a team, then when you make a new channel, it'll be shared with everyone in that team by default. And if you've already organized your teams in Office 365 groups, you can import those into Microsoft Teams to speed things up.
Then, you might notice an
A button under your chat box. That's the formatting button—tap it to enable some Word-like formatting options for your messages. Or, use normal keyboard shortcuts or add Markdown-style formatting to your text. Either way, Microsoft Teams will show the text the way you want. And if you have more to say than you can fit in a message, tap the Wiki tab in your channel to write a full-length document inside Microsoft Teams.
+ button beside those tabs, and that's where Microsoft Teams is perhaps the most fun. Share a Microsoft Office file in Microsoft Teams and you'll be able to preview or edit it right in your chat with Office Online apps. That
+ icon includes more, with options to add each of the main Office apps to your chat along with over 30 other apps including popular tools like Trello, GitHub, and Adobe Creative Cloud. Each one offers a full web app that runs inside your chat. Add Trello, for instance, and you can add a full Trello board to your chat that works just like the main Trello app would. Same with the Word, Excel, and PowerPoint apps—you get the core Office Online features to get work done right from your chat. You can even add your team's own apps to Microsoft Teams if you want.
Microsoft Teams core chat tools with their formatting options and Skype integrations are a compelling option for team chat, especially if you already use Office for your business. It's free for up to 300 people along with the free Office.com web apps, or included with paid Office 365 business and enterprise subscriptions. With the extra apps in tabs, Microsoft Teams might even be the most productive way to communicate since you can bring all of your most important work apps together in one place where you work and chat together.
Originally published January 16, 2018; updated July 13, 2018 with new free plan