Microsoft unveils corporate team chat service to take on rival offerings from other companies

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 03 November, 2016, 1:01am
UPDATED : Thursday, 03 November, 2016, 1:01am

Microsoft unveiled a corporate team-chat service that works with its cloud-based Office and Skype products, aiming to take on Slack Technologies and Atlassian Corp.’s HipChat in a growing market.

The new product is “designed to facilitate real-time conversations and collaboration while maintaining and building up that institutional knowledge of a team,” said Chief Executive Officer Satya Nadella.

The product has team chat, private messages and voice and videoconferencing.

Big companies like Microsoft and IBM are showing renewed interest in the corporate-messaging market as customers flock to internet-based tools like Slack for setting up team communications, said Vanessa Thompson, an analyst at IDC.

Microsoft relied on Office 365 and other products to rack up almost US$10 billion in commercial cloud revenue for the fiscal year that ended June 30, and is adding services to draw in more customers.

“Microsoft is trying to get more airtime with customers that might want something to augment their existing investment in Office 365,” Thompson said. “What we have started to see is a bunch of companies trying to attack the enterprise versions of WhatsApp and consumer messaging.”

IDC hasn’t published a market size or forecast for the space, which it calls workplace application messaging. A preview of the service is available now for Office 365 commercial customers in two of the product’s plans.