Get ready for Skype Teams – Microsoft's Slack rival is just around the corner

Beta set for November, with the full product to launch in January

Apparently Skype Teams, Microsoft's incoming rival to Slack which was revealed a couple of weeks back, could see a full release very shortly – in fact, as soon as next January.

According to the usual anonymous sources who spoke to Petri, Microsoft plans to expand from testing with a limited number of private clients to a full beta test in November, with the launch of the product planned for two months after that.

Although that schedule could change, this is the current thinking, and given the pretty close timeframe for launch, if there are any delays, they will likely only be slight ones.

As was previously mentioned earlier this month, Skype Teams will be part of Office 365, although Petri clarified that it will be aimed at business subscribers – most likely those on the Enterprise E3 plan and up.

The idea being that when the many companies who already subscribe to Office 365 receive Skype Teams as part of their bundle, they'll be tempted to abandon Slack in order to save money (assuming they use the latter, of course).

That's the theory, anyway, and apparently Microsoft is making sure its product is well polished before launch to stand the best chance of poaching users. Development time has run to 18 months now, apparently.

No slacking off for SMBs?

However, Microsoft could be missing a trick, and certainly some small businesses will likely be disappointed to see that the offering isn't included with lesser business plans such as Office 365 Business (and Essentials/Premium).

Evidently Microsoft is aiming this at the big guns, although why the company isn't looking further down the business food chain, and what it would lose by doing so, isn't clear to us at this point. Perhaps the thinking is smaller outfits will be using Slack for free, and are therefore unlikely to budge.

Although bear in mind that all this is still speculation from Petri's sources at the moment, so we can't judge too quickly – the true picture may turn out to be different in terms of targeted Office 365 plans.

Skype Teams will be a fully cross-platform affair that will unsurprisingly integrate Skype features like direct video calling between members, and design-wise it'll look a lot like Slack, but with some divergence, naturally, such as the inclusion of threaded conversations (replies to specific messages).

Via: MS Power User