Microsoft said to be readying its Slack competitor for a November beta test

Microsoft's coming Skype Teams service may be available for beta testing by November. Meanwhile, LinkedIn and Microsoft are partnering on new training courses.
Written by Mary Jo Foley, Senior Contributing Editor

Microsoft may be aiming to deliver a beta version of its Skype Teams service -- its intended Slack competitor -- by November, according to a new report.


Brad Sams of Petri.com provided an update this week from his sources on what's happening with Skype Teams. Sams said Skype Teams has been under development for 18 months and that it's currently in private testing. An expanded beta may be coming in November, with a full release planned for January, Sams said, while noting roadmap "plans could change at any time".

Sams' sources also said Skype Teams will likely be available as part of the various Office 365 business plans, and it will be integrated with other Office 365 services. Given there's also a free tier of Slack, I wonder whether Microsoft may opt for a freemium model, as it has with a number of its existing services, and offer an entry-level free version of Skype Teams with options to upgrade to unlock more features.

Microsoft was rumored to have considered buying Slack, but it instead decided it could compete head-to-head with the team-collaboration service via its own Skype service.

In other Office-related news, Microsoft and LinkedIn have created new training courses about various Office apps and services. The courses are available for free in the Office Training Center, and cover topics like how to use Outlook 2016 and Excel 2016.

LinkedIn -- which is in the process of being acquired by Microsoft -- is also making other Microsoft-centric courses available through its recently-announced LinkedIn Learning service, which makes use of the LinkedIn-owned Lynda.com content.

Microsoft and LinkedIn have not yet detailed how Microsoft will use LinkedIn Learning/Lynda.com, because the Microsoft-LinkedIn acquisition is not yet final. But Microsoft has a number of online video and training assets of its own, plus an agreement with edX.org to offer training around the new Microsoft professional degree program. So, once regulatory approval happens, it will be interesting to see how Microsoft's and LinkedIn's training/video assets are merged (or not).

Microsoft officials have said they expect the LinkedIn deal to close before the end of calendar 2016.

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