Microsoft Says Its Slack Challenger Teams Is Growing, Now Open To Guests – Forbes

Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella is continuing to push his own work messaging app, Teams. (Credit: JASON REDMOND/AFP/Getty Images)

Microsoft’s software alternative to Slack is now open for guests.

Six months after the general release of its workplace messaging app Teams, Microsoft will now allow customers to share Teams channels with guest users from other companies. Microsoft also reported an update on user traction for the service, saying that 125,000 organizations are now using Teams in 25 languages.

Microsoft announced the new Teams capabilities on Monday morning, one day before Slack kicks off its two-day user conference in San Francisco. And the update comes less than a week after another challenger, software maker Atlassian, unveiled another messaging competitor called Stride.

Guest support in Teams will work for anyone who is an Office 365 customer and wants to add someone who is also an Office customer, Microsoft cloud customer or uses an Azure-supported app, the company said in a blog post on Monday. Free Microsoft accounts will then be supported later to include Outlook, Skype and Xbox users, as well as accounts created for that purpose with an email address. IT departments will be able to view guest usage with the same security and authentication standards as elsewhere in Microsoft’s products, the company said, while retaining the ability to quickly view and revoke any guests.

Microsoft also debuted support for Botkit, a developer toolkit for building bots, with Teams, as well as API integrations with popular developer chat service Jira and code repository GitHub.

Microsoft

How adding a guest looks in Teams.

When Microsoft unveiled Teams in November 2016 with much fanfare and an address by CEO Satya Nadella, the company pointed to its then 85 million-person customer base for Office 365 as a sign that it had a sizable market available simply within its own customer base. The company didn’t say how many of those users were reflected in the 125,000 organizations now signed up for Teams, but it would seem that the company would still have a long way to go in tapping it.

And the private venture-backed company that Microsoft was seemingly reacting to and looking to quash, Slack, was on high alert then. Slack sent out its own release a day before noting it had reached 4 million daily users; the day of Teams’ announcement, CEO Stewart Butterfield took out a full-page ad congratulating Microsoft in a nod to an Apple ad stunt from the 1980s.

On Monday, Microsoft returned the favor, preempting Slack’s user conference and corresponding announcements with its own user update and the release of a feature the company said was the most requested.

When asked about the timing, Microsoft played coy. “As a cloud service, we are rolling new features to our customers when they become available,” a company spokesperson said.

Competition between Slack, Microsoft and other challengers like Atlassian is good news for customers, who will likely see more competitive features follow this one as each company looks to match and leapfrog the other. So while Microsoft’s announcement on Monday is unlikely to cause a massive swing in adoption, it’s a positive feature that may get more Office users to give Teams a try.

Slack doesn’t currently offer guest access of its own. It’s up to Butterfield and his team how they’ll respond to their bigger challengers in Redmond.

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