Microsoft starts rolling out Office 365 Connectors as part of Groups

Microsoft is starting to roll out Office 365 Connectors, a feature that pulls content and updates from Microsoft and third-party apps and services, like Twitter, Trello, RSS and more, directly into Outlook.

Microsoft is expanding availability of Office 365 Connectors, a feature that pulls content and updates from apps and services directly into Office 365 Groups shared inboxes.

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Microsoft took the wraps off the first of these Connectors in preview form in November 2015 at the company's Connect() 2015 developer event.

Via the Office 365 Connectors, information from apps and services like Twitter, RSS, and other Microsoft and third-party developers can show up inside users' shared Office 365 Groups Inbox. That way, users can stay inside Outlook but still work with other apps and services, rather than having to switch between multiple products -- as well as collaborate more seamlessly on shared information.

Update: As Romit Mehta noted on Twitter, Microsoft Groups sound a lot like Slack's Channels and Microsoft's Connectors like Slack integrations.

Users can configure Office 365 Connectors and developers "can build against them through incoming webhooks to generate rich connector cards," company officials explained at the time. "There is also a new 'Connect to Office 365' button, which developers can embed on their site and enable users to connect to Office 365 groups," according to Microsoft.

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As of today, March 25, there are more than 50 Office 365 Connectors available today, including ones for MailChimp, Asana, GitHub, Stack Overflow, Aha, Zendesk, Salesforce, Twitter and UserVoice.

As Microsoft officials said last year, Microsoft also is planning to integrate Office 365 Connectors into Outlook 2016 and other versions of Outlook, too.

Connectors currently work with the Office 365 Groups shared inbox, which requires an Office 365 work or school account. They also will work with Outlook 2016 and the Outlook Web App, which support Office 365 Groups. Additionally, Microsoft is rolling out Connectors for the Groups mobile app for iOS, Android and Windows Phone. (The Outlook Groups app is already in the Apple App Store, Google Play Store and Windows Store, according to a Microsoft support article.)

Office 365 Connectors are available now to Office 365 users who are part of Microsoft's First Release wave. They will be generally available "shortly," today's blog post said.

More details on how the Connectors work is available here.

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