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Microsoft Teams, more than just chat

Microsoft Teams is fast becoming the go-to chat based messenger for Office 365 business users.

Teams looks to take on some of the established business messaging applications such as Slack and HipChat by offering complete integration with Office 365 applications and services.

 





So, what does it do?

Teams enables groups of users to chat and share documents on a single thread based platform, while integrating seamlessly with their Office 365 subscription. Documents can be viewed, shared and collaborated on all within one place. Chat functionality ranges from text based chat between 2 colleagues, all the way up to video meetings with up to 80 users.

Threads

It can sometimes be difficult to absorb important information when viewing large lists of messages. Team chat uses a thread based model which means that any topic can be replied to directly. Most users should already be familiar with this system, as it is already used heavily on Facebook and other similar apps.  Grouping threads of messages can allow users to preview messages quicker because in large group forums, allowing users to reply to threads will reduce the number of new posts shown in the list.

Subscriptions

Microsoft Teams is available in the following Office 365 business subscriptions:

  • Office 365 Business Essentials, Office 365 Business Premium

  • Office 365 Enterprise E1, E3, and E5 plans.

Teams is also available to existing Office 365 Enterprise E4 customers who purchased E4 before its retirement. Microsoft currently does not allow you to purchase standalone teams licencing, possibly due to the level of integration required with the above subscriptions.

Limits

When creating a new team, users can invite up to 999 users per team. However, Microsoft have imposed stricter limits when it comes to IM group chats and video meetings. This is understandable as allowing the full 999 users to IM in a single group chat would quickly get out of hand. The limit for IM group chats is 20 users and the video meeting has been set higher at 80 users per session.

These limits are fairly substantial and would probably only be reached in a large corporate environment. Small to medium businesses should have no worries exceeding these limits.

Summary

It is still too early to tell if Office 365 Teams will provide any compelling advantage over the already established Slack. However, with the level of integration with existing Office 365 applications, it gives Teams a significant advantage over other 3rd parties. Businesses who already have qualifying subscriptions of Office 365 have no reason not to try Teams free of charge today as it has the potential to massively increase business efficiency.

Author: David Johnston, 19 May 2017

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