Microsoft has announced that a new chat application, called Teams, has been created for Office 365.

The idea of ‘Teams’ is to allow greater collaboration between creators. It will sit over the top of Office 365 applications, including Excel, Word, SharePoint, OneNote, Planner, PowerPoint, Delve and Power BI, allowing users to drop in data as they work. Chat groups can be private or public, but all messages will be encrypted at rest and in transit.

‘Teams’ can also link in third-party code, such as Twitter, and allow communication via Skype for when video conversations are necessary. Microsoft has ensured the app appeals to modern day workers by including emojis, GIFs, stickers and even custom memes.

However, competitor ‘Slack’, a comparable messaging app, has noticed ‘Teams’ is oddly similar to its offering, both in terms of functionality and design.

In fact, the Slack team responded to Microsoft’s announcement by publishing a full-page open letter to the company in The New York Times. The letter welcomes Microsoft to the world of chat apps, and says it knows it will be a “worthy competitor”.

Official Teams launch Q1 2017 – preview version for developers now available

Commenting on the introduction of ‘Teams’, Satya Nadella, Microsoft’s CEO, said: “Cricket is my favourite sport – how an entire team made up of specialists come together, perform brilliantly individually, but have a coordinated set of strategies and tactics. The art of finding that right set of tools that drive the collaboration that leads to success is what’s at the core of Teams.”

‘Teams’ will officially launch sometime during the first quarter of 2017, but a preview version for developers and early preview customers is available already in 181 countries. The app will run on all major platforms, including iOS, Mac, Windows, Android and web.

For more information on the Office 365 plans that will include Microsoft Teams, levels of security and compliance supported and the training that is currently available, please consult this official Microsoft blog: