Exclusive: Microsoft working on Skype Teams, its own Slack competitor

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Editor’s Note: Skype Teams will likely get renamed to “Microsoft Teams”, and it’s set to launch on November 2, 2016.

It was recently reported that Microsoft wanted to buy Slack for $8 billion. Slack, for those unfamiliar, is a messaging app for teams that’s been getting quite popular recently. Now, Microsoft is working on a direct Slack competitor under the Skype brand, according to people familiar with the matter.

Meet Skype Teams.

Skype Teams is going to be Microsoft’s take on messaging apps for teams. Skype Teams will include a lot of similar features which you’ll find on Slack. For example, Skype Teams will allow you to chat in different groups within a team, also known as “channels”. Additionally, users will be able to talk to each other via Direct Messages on Skype Teams.

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Skype Teams will also feature Threaded Conversations, which is a major feature that’s lacking on Slack. With Threaded Conversations, you can simply reply to a message on a channel by clicking on the reply button and anyone else can join the thread whenever they want — just like Facebook Comments, or Disqus Comments.

Microsoft, of course, isn’t leaving out some of the core features of Skype on Skype Teams. Similar to Skype itself, teams will be able to make video calls in a channel or privately. To take this even further, the company is adding the ability to schedule online meetings, which can be quite useful for large teams.

Skype Teams will also allow users to share files, notes, etc. Now of course, these are some basic features which you’ll expect almost all chatting apps in the modern age. But Skype Teams also works with other services to make the chatting experience even better, and we expect Microsoft will allow bots from its Bot Framework to work with Skype Teams. Lastly, the service will feature Office 365 integration (for things like PowerPoint, Word, etc), which is going to be a very useful feature for businesses who use Office 365.

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And what about Slack’s Giphy integration? Well, Microsoft seems to have a way better solution on Skype Teams called “The Fun Picker” where you can add emojis, GIfs from Giphy, Memes, and a lot more.

Skype Teams will have a sidebar where you can easily access the different features of the service: there’s an Activity tab where you can find the latest notifications, there’s a Chat tab where you can find all of your conversations, there’s a Teams tab where you can switch between the different teams, there’s a Meetings tab were you can find your schedule and lastly, the Files tab where you can find your files from Skype Teams and OneDrive.

Skype Teams will include a similar user experience to Slack. Simply put, if you have previously used Slack, Skype Teams will look quite familiar to you and that’s not really a bad thing. Keep in mind that Slack doesn’t include integration with Office 365 or some of the other major Microsoft services such as OneDrive — so businesses who use Office 365 may certainly be interested in using Skype Teams thanks to the powerful Office 365 integration.

Microsoft wants to get Skype Teams on all of your devices, and that’s why the company is planning to release a web and a Windows app. For Mobile devices, the company will be launching Skype Teams for Android, iOS, and Windows Phone.

The software giant is currently testing Skype Teams internally, but we do not have any info on when the company plans to launch it to the public. However, we are told that Microsoft plans to launch the service for Office 365 subscribers initially, and it may come to other users in the future.

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