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article imageMicrosoft claims Teams enterprise chat app used by 125k firms

By James Walker     Sep 11, 2017 in Technology
Microsoft has celebrated six months since it released its Slack rival Teams by announcing over 125,000 businesses are using the app. The company refused to disclose how many users that represents though, instead sticking to aggregate enterprise numbers.
Microsoft said a total of 125,000 organisations including businesses, schools and government departments are currently using Teams. Since the number of people in a business could vary from two people to upwards of 20,000, this figure alone holds limited value. Office 365, the wider productivity suite Teams is part of, boasts 100 million active individual users. It's safe to assume they're not all enrolled on Teams though.
Microsoft told Business Insider it's "heartened" by Teams' growth. The app, devised from the ground-up as a rival to Slack, seems to have got off to a strong start. It was met at launch by generally favourable reviews.
Microsoft is selling the product based on its strong integration with the rest of Office 365. Like all the other components of the suite, it's included under a single monthly subscription. Microsoft hopes enterprises will switch to the tool they're already paying for instead of continuing to spend extra on Slack.
Today, Microsoft announced a set of new features for Teams that includes one of the most hotly-requested launch omissions. Teams has been hindered by the rigid requirement that all its users are a part of the organisation's Office 365 membership. For companies working with external contractors, this poses a problem. They need to communicate with the contracted workers but don't want to consume Office 365 licenses by granting them the entire suite.
Microsoft Teams
Microsoft Teams
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Slack solved this problem with guest access, allowing external staff members to login with existing credentials. Teams now has this functionality too, widening its audience to more enterprises. Anyone with a Microsoft account can be registered as a Teams guest user, granting them access to company group chats without full access to the organisation's files.
"Since Microsoft Teams became generally available six months ago, more than 125,000 organizations have discovered how teamwork comes to life in Teams," said Microsoft. "Today, Teams is getting even better with the rollout of guest access to all Office 365 commercial and education customers. Now Office 365 users can add people from outside their company to a team, so guests can participate in chats, join meetings, collaborate on documents, and more."
Microsoft's still got work to do before it can catch up to Slack. The $5 billion startup has acquired a dominating hold on the enterprise chat market. Microsoft's making a strong entry with Teams though. By integrating it with Office 365, focusing on larger companies than Slack and now demonstrating it can listen to feedback, the company's attempting to become the leader in every facet of productivity software. The company told Business Insider it wants Office 365 to be a "universal toolkit" for businesses, a concept that's already ruffling feathers elsewhere.
Teams' new features are available from today to commercial and education users. Alongside guest access, Microsoft's also rolling out enhanced security and compliance capabilities and expanded controls for IT admins and developers. This is another area where it extends a lead over Slack – by granting admins greater management options, it presents Teams as a more controllable chat solution.
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