Skip to main content

Microsoft Teams Isn't A Shot At Slack - For Now

Microsoft announced Teams this week, immediately bringing comparisons with current chat-based workspace tool Slack. The latter even took out a newspaper ad in the US to welcome Microsoft to the market.

There have been two canned responses to Microsoft's new product: the bug guy hasn't got a chance against the hip, lightweight and agile encumbent; or Slack is done for and Microsoft will eat its breakfast, lunch and dinner.

Neither of those are especially prophetic responses and both are true in different ways.

For starters Microsoft has set out a particularly specific stall for Teams: its an add-on product to Office 365. Which means that any organisation that currently has an Office 365 deployment got a chat-based workspace for free. Whether they need it or know how to make best use of it, it's available to try, learn and embed into organisation workflows and practices at no risk to the customer.

For Microsoft this is about making Office 365 a more attractive proposition to customers, rather than competing with Slack per se. The impact for Slack is still tangible though - customers getting the product (effectively) for free are going to need an awfully big reason to invest in an additional platform which offers little additional functionality.

In the long run it will be the allegiance of third-party developers that decides the future of Slack. If the accessible and significant Office 365 business and enterprise customer base looks to be a ready market for Teams add-ons and integrations I see a rapid shift away from Slack, resulting in a feature gap and a long, slow decline into irrelevance.

In this respect Microsoft is in a great place with Teams. It doesn't need to deliver a great product from day one, just one that is good enough. Following its current model of continuous and iterative updates it will end up being a great product over time. 

And being integrated with all of Microsoft's Office tools and capabilities is a pretty good place to be starting from anyway.


Popular posts from this blog

F1: Robert Kubica Impresses In Renault Test Run

The car may be old but its the performance of the driver that's the story here. Robert Kubica returned to F1, after a fashion, earlier this week with an extensive test run in a 2012 Lotus Renault F1 car at Valencia.
The age of the car and the circuit were likely determined by F1's current rules which ban testing, but the reason for Kubica being in the car is far more interesting. Considered by many to be a potential World Champion and certainly one of the fastest drivers of his generation, Kubica's F1 career seemed to be over after a 2011 crash whilst driving in the Rally of Andora. His Skoda Fabia was penetrated by a guardrail in the high speed accident partially severing his right arm.
Up until last year Kubica has been competing in rallying, with the expectation that the limited movement in his repaired arm would prohibit a return to single seater racing.
So this week's test is both interesting and confusing. Interesting because Kubica completed 115 laps of the ret…

F1: Robert Kubica's Williams Test Asks More Questions Than It Answers

Comparing driver's times at a tyre evaluation test like last week's Abu Dhabi event is difficult at the best of times, but when trying to assess the performance of a driver who has been out of the sport for six years, that difficulty level is raised even higher.
On the face of it Robert Kubica's test for Williams was a success. Fastest of the three Williams drivers present the headlines look promising. However, taking into consideration the different tyres used to set those times muddies the water considerably.
Kubica ran a three lap qualifying simulation on the new 'hyper-soft' tyre - which should have given him a two-second advantage. Correcting for tyres it would appear that Kubica was significantly slower than Sergei Sorotkin - who was on the harder 'soft' tyre - and marginally quicker than Lance Stroll, the team's only contracted driver.

Stroll's family fortune currently funds Williams, so there' no chance that he will be anywhere but in a…

Panos Panay's Defence Of Microsoft Surface Hardware Sounds Eerily Familiar

This weekend I went out with my ten year old daughter to select a laptop for her school year beginning in January. The schools requirements are quite specific, requiring a Windows 10 device, with a preference for a touchscreen and a stylus. She chose a Surface Pro, after trying a large number of different options. Having seen the way I use my own Surface Pro - and tried it herself there was only ever going to be two options - and the other was a Surface Laptop.
I tell you this so that you understand I am a buyer of Microsoft's products through choice, not compulsion. I'm on my third Surface device now. 
So when Panos Panay dismissed reports of the death of the Surface hardware line, I was very interested to see exactly how strong these denials were. Especially how they reflect what has gone before. To whit: Windows 10 Mobile.
Panay claimed that Microsoft is in hardware for the long haul. Almost exactly mirroring the words of Terry Myerson, when he claimed Windows Mobile was g…