Microsoft Teams turns two years old and adds new features to take on $7.1 billion Slack (MSFT)


Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella

  • As Microsoft Teams turns two years old, it’s adding new features designed to help front line workers and improve collaboration and security.
  • Microsoft Teams is now used by over 500,000 organizations, although it does not report the number of daily active users.
  • Lori Wright, general manager of workplace collaboration at Microsoft, says that what makes Teams stand out from other messaging and collaboration apps is that it bundles features messaging, meetings and calls all together.

Microsoft Teams just turned two years old, and this office messaging and collaboration app is adding an assortment of new features.

Right now, Microsoft Teams is used by over 500,000 organizations, although it does not break out the number of daily active users. Microsoft does say that over 150 of its organizations have over 10,000 active users each. 

Lori Wright, general manager of workplace collaboration at Microsoft, says that the company has been working to better support frontline workers, such as those workers in manufacturing, health care, the automotive industry, and more.

“They have traditionally been underserved by technology,” Wright told Business Insider. “We built Teams knowing the vast majority of the connected world does have a mobile phone.”

There are other office messaging apps on the horizon competing with Microsoft — notably the $7.1 billion startup Slack, which has filed to go public this year. In comparison, Slack has over 85,000 paying customers and more than 10 million daily active users. Wright says that what makes Microsoft Teams stand out is that it’s an all-in-one product, combining the features that workers most want. 

“Whether you’re using a chat-based workspace, online meetings, or calling, each of those companies provide a component part of that story,” Wright said. “Teams is really about the end-to-end solution. You have the messaging, meetings, and calling all bundled together. If you have three different solutions and are paying three different prices, you can get that all through Microsoft.”

New features

Along with the usage numbers, Microsoft added a handful of new features — including a new feature that automatically adds subtitles to a video call as the speaker talks.

“Regardless of where you are in a coffee shop or airport where you can’t hear what’s happening, you can see it on a screen,” Wright said.

It also added a feature called Intelligent Capture which makes a person standing in front of a whiteboard look transparent on a video call, so that the person isn’t blocking the board, as well as a whiteboard feature that can save what’s written on a physical whiteboard as a digital copy that users can interact with.

Whiteboard Capture

Other new features include customized backgrounds for video chatting, secure private channels, information barriers, data loss prevention, and a live events feature.

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“We really are moving from this place where gone are the days of the cubicle and silos and companies are ushering in these more collaborative workspaces,” Wright said. “The core of all of this is moving from individual achievement to being more about teamwork and shared success. It is teamwork that’s driving the highest performances.”

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