Microsoft announced new features for Teams, including integrations with Power Platform, which allows users to easily build apps without having to write code, at its developers’ conference Build on Tuesday.
Microsoft also launched updates to Fluid Framework so that users can collaborate on tables, lists, and agendas right in their Outlook email and other Office apps for the web.
Microsoft competes with the likes of Slack, Zoom, and Google, but exec Jeff Teper says that while rivals are “great” companies, “we believe we’re the best solution”
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Microsoft just launched a bunch of new features and updates at its annual developer conference that deepen its competition with Slack, Zoom, and Google and further its aim to make the Microsoft 365 suite an all-in-one product for the enterprise.
Microsoft and its rivals have all seen seen a surge in usage during the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, and the company is laser-focused on being “the best choice in every category we participate in,” executive Jeff Teper told Business Insider.
“Our strategy with Microsoft 365 is to have the best capability in each of these categories and integrate them together so there’s great user experience,” he said. “We respect all these companies — we think they’re great companies — but we believe we’re the best solution and that’s why we have great momentum.”
Its collaboration app, Teams, received a host of new tools on Tuesday, including customizable templates, chatbots, meeting scheduling features, and the ability to broadcast events. Teams hit 75 million daily active users in April, an enormous spike over its roughly 20 million late last year (while there’s no direct comparison, Zoom reported 300 million daily meeting participants in April, while Slack had 119,000 paid customers in March).
Teams will also now be able to integrate with Power Platform, a tool that helps people develop apps without having to write code. That way, developers can build Teams functionality into other products they’re building, using it to automatically send messages, automate repetitive tasks, or share reports to an entire team. For example, a company that creates an app for patient care in hospitals could build an integration to automatically ping people in Teams for their shift.
“We want to make sure developers recognize the opportunity and number of people they can reach and the services and capabilities to build apps to meet the needs of a changing world” said Teper, the corporate vice president of Microsoft 365 Collaboration.
Microsoft also updated Fluid Framework, the interactive collaboration platform that it announced last year. The service will include interactive components like tables, lists, and agendas that users can insert and work on directly within Microsoft Office on the web and in Outlook email, without opening a new browser or tab. Microsoft plans to make Fluid Framework available as open source software, meaning anyone can download and modify its code for free, which will allow developers to use it within their companies’ own products.
“We believe the future of productivity won’t be defined by any one person or any one company,” Jared Spataro, corporate vice president of Microsoft 365, told Business Insider. “Open sourcing allows us to create a mechanism so we can all contribute and add what we have to add.”
How MAGIX used Microsoft’s service to build an app
Some companies have already been using Microsoft’s services to build apps. MAGIX, which develops software for editing video and audio, built an app called VEGAS Stream to help teachers stream their lessons to students during the coronavirus crisis, and it integrates with Teams, Office 365, and Microsoft’s Azure cloud.
This app also allowed the San Francisco Conservatory of Music to stream music lessons and concerts online. Thanks to the Teams integration, people watching the streams can also ask questions live within the app.
“Teams is just a daily tool for us,” MAGIX CTO Hagen Hirsche told Business Insider. “That’s why we came up with ideas on how to connect with teams and how to interact with Microsoft ecosystems. We want to make use of this big world of collaboration and productivity.”
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