Teams is Microsoft's take on chat-based communication for business, its answer to competing platforms such as Slack

In its simplest form the service allows users to set up Teams, each of which is essentially a hub for group chat rooms, which are called channels.

Multiple chat rooms or channels can be created within a Team and to help keep chats easy to follow, conversations are threaded, flow from top to bottom and notify users of updates. If users need face-to-face conversation, they can jump straight into voice or video chats with other channel participants with a single click. The number of participants in a video chat is also set to grow, with Microsoft integrating the Kaizala messaging service for large-group communication into Teams.

However, Microsoft is pushing the platform as being more than just a chat hub. Teams is integrated with Microsoft's online office suite Office 365, which means it is tied to other Microsoft Office services, such as Word and Excel, as well as its cloud storage and sharing services such as SharePoint. PowerPoint, OneNote, Planner, Power BI and Delve are also integrated with Teams.

Consequently any documents, spreadsheets, presentations and the like that are shared within a Team are synced with a copy stored in Microsoft's OneDrive cloud storage and a local SharePoint environment, so every Team member always has access to the latest version. Collaborative editing of this shared content is also possible, with each user's changes reflected in the Office software in real time.

Even if someone doesn't like using Microsoft Teams, the service's integration with Office 365 means that important updates or content generated within the collaboration platform can be flagged up outside of Teams, for instance Microsoft Delve might highlight an update to an important shared file.

Team channels can also communicate with outside services via Connectors. Connectors already exist to push updates from  SAP SuccessFactors and Salesforce to Teams' channels and an API framework is available to allow more to be built, also allowing businesses to link their own internal apps.

 

From within Chat, every Team channel has access to T-Bot, a bot that can answer simple questions about how to use Microsoft Teams.

Access to files, internal sites and dashboards is automatically controlled by Office 365 Groups and SharePoint, with users able to create a new Group or attach the Team to an existing Group when creating the Team.

Microsoft Teams is designed to meet the same security and data protection standards as Office 365. The service enforces two-factor authentication, single sign on through Active Directory and encryption of data in transit and at rest.

 

Microsoft is also adding controls to help organizations protect sensitive information from being shared or leaked. Information barriers allow firms to limit which team members can communicate and collaborate with each other. 

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