Airtable accuses Microsoft of copying its service

May 21, 2020

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At Build 2020, Microsoft announced a new app called Microsoft Lists. This new Microsoft Lists app can be used to share and track information such as workflow issues, contacts, issues tracking and status reporting within Microsoft Teams, SharePoint and Outlook. Users can use templates to start lists or create their own, configure color formatting, build alerts and standardize processes with simple “if this then that” configurations. Microsoft Lists app is also available on iOS and Android.

Following Microsoft Lists announcement, Airtable, a San Francisco-based startup, has accused Microsoft of copying its collaboration service. Airtable is a well-established product with thousands of enterprise customers around the world. Large businesses like Netflix and PBS, US Digital Response, and startups like Patreon are already using Airtable everyday. Airtable now claims that its success and the rapid growth have prompted significant copycat interest from Microsoft.

Here’s what Airtable thinks of Microsoft Lists:

  • Microsoft’s product is clearly an effort to elbow their way in on the success Airtable has had, but the features of their product are very basic compared to Airtable’s built-out array of functions.
    • It’s clear that their functionality and platform overall are a reaction to our work.
    • Airtable’s product is easier to use and more intuitive than Microsoft’s product. Anyone can be onboarded quickly and start using Airtable immediately.
    • Microsoft is late to the game, and their simplistic product shows their lack of investment.
    • Microsoft’s product looks like it was built to fit into their suite of apps instead of functioning as a standalone, comprehensive tool like Airtable does.

You can check out the similarities between Microsoft Lists and Airtable in the screenshots below.

Microsoft Lists AirTable

Microsoft Lists AirTable

The UI of Microsoft Lists does look similar to Airable. But I think Microsoft Lists is just an evolution on top of SharePoint lists, a service which already has millions of users. Microsoft Lists encompasses SharePoint lists, a new Lists home page (web), lists in Microsoft Teams and the Lists mobile apps. Unlike Airtable, Microsoft Lists is not a standalone service offering right now. Even though Airtable has several advanced features when compared to Microsoft Lists, Microsoft Lists has its own advantages, I’ve listed some of them below.

  • As part of Microsoft 365, Microsoft Lists comes with built-in governance, security and compliance capabilities.
  • For makers who need more than the out-of-box offering, Microsoft Lists integrates with Power Apps (forms) and Power Automate (workflow).
  • Microsoft Lists is free and it is part of Microsoft 365.

You can learn more about Microsoft Lists here.

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