Back in November 2016, Microsoft first announced Microsoft Teams, their new “chat-based workspace in Office 365.” For a long time, this service has existed only as a preview for those who live to live on the bleeding edge.

Good news for those who have been waiting, however—Microsoft is rolling out Microsoft Teams to all of its customers on a global scale. To help celebrate the launch, Microsoft is hosting a online event to “talk about how customers are using Office 365 to collaborate and deliver great results.” Microsoft Corporate Vice President Kirk Koenigsbauer and a special guest will be in attendance to help mark the occasion.

As Teams nears its global launch, you might be left still wondering: What is Microsoft Teams, exactly, and how can I benefit from it?

Microsoft Teams: chat for entire teams

The goal of Microsoft Teams is to bridge the space between chat and content so that people can get caught up to speed faster and don’t need to waste time on discovering relevant content. Microsoft hopes that its Office 365 customers will use Teams to become more agile and flatten existing organizational structures by enabling more integrated communication on a single digital platform.

The basic Microsoft Teams user interface.

The basic Microsoft Teams user interface.

There are both persistent and threaded chats, which are visible by default to the entire team for full transparency and accessibility. Private discussions are a possibility as well for conversations that need to start small before being expanded to the whole team.

On top of that all of Office 365—including Word, Excel, PowerPoint, One Note, and more—are integrated right into Teams, so that it’s easy to engage in a conversation about a particular document directly within that document. Teams helps create a shared workspace for all employees to dip into and make changes as needed.

An example of collaborating on a Word document directly from Microsoft Teams.

An example of collaborating on a Word document directly from Microsoft Teams.

One of the main goals of Teams is to help individuals better express themselves in whatever way works for them. When people spend more time working remotely, in-chat personality means a lot. To that end, there is deep support for emojis, stickers, GIFs, and custom memes.

Security is also of utmost importance to organizations of all types, and Microsoft generally has them covered with both at-rest and in-transit data encryption, multi-factor authentication for better identity protection, and broad compliance standards support.

On top of all this, Teams is richly customizable as well, because not every organization needs exactly the same tools to get the same work done. To this end, Microsoft allows teams to create tabs for frequently-accessed files or services, and offers a rich API for more custom extensibility. Microsoft is also claiming 150 built-in integrations with other services, like GitHub, Twitter, Asana, Zendesk, Hootsuite, and more.

In many ways, think of Teams as a fully-integrated Slack experience in Office 365. Why use yet another third-party platform when you have a compelling one in your existing stack?

Full administration and management of files is possible within the Microsoft Teams environment.

Full administration and management of files is possible within the Microsoft Teams environment.

How to get Microsoft Teams

Microsoft Teams will soon be available for Office 365 commercial customers that run on Business Essentials, Business Premium, and Enterprise E1, E3, and E5. The service will work on a host of platforms, including Windows, Mac, Android, iOS, and web platforms.

The service will be globally available on March 14, but if you’re interested in getting a head-start, IT admins can head to their Office 365 admin center, and click Settings > Services & Add Ins > Microsoft Teams. There will be a toggle that enables or disables the entire service.

If you want to try out Microsoft Teams but don’t have Office 365, or aren’t sure if your particular plan gives you access, get in touch and we’ll help you sort out the details. We’ve helped hundreds of companies migrate to the cloud via Office 365, and are at the ready to help you figure out how to use Teams and other Office 365 products to elevate your company to new heights.

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