Review: Microsoft Teams tries to do Slack one better

Microsoft is now offering the beta of Teams, its new group communications tool, which promises a new level of productivity for Office.

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While it's become the standard productivity suite for many businesses, Microsoft Office has lacked a tool specifically built for group communication and collaboration.

Enter Microsoft Teams, a cloud-based, chat-centric app for group communication and collaboration, which lets groups and subgroups create their own channels to work together using text chat, file sharing, calendaring, and voice and video chat. It's targeted squarely at Slack, which has become a well-known option for businesses that want to encourage workplace communication (and is, incidentally, something that Microsoft reportedly considered buying for $8 billion until CEO Satya Nadella nixed the idea).

The first beta of Teams was introduced in early November, and the final version is expected to be released in March 2017. The beta is currently available -- but only for Office 365 customers with a Business Essentials, Premium or Enterprise plan. The cross-platform tool has been released as a web-based app as well as a native app for Windows, macOS, iOS and Android. (Note: In our tests, when we tried to run it in the Ubuntu version of Linux, the web version told us that our browser was unsupported and prompted us to download a desktop version. The link gave us a Windows executable, which wasn't particularly useful.)

Does Teams deliver on its promise? To find out, we put it through its paces -- and, in fact, used it to work together on this review. Keep in mind that this is a beta version, so that there will probably be changes and/or additional features along the way.

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