Microsoft to beef up Skype's team collaboration capabilities to take on Slack

Microsoft is working on a new Skype feature or product that's known as Skype Teams, which is said to be part of the company's plan to compete directly with Slack.
Written by Mary Jo Foley, Senior Contributing Editor

Microsoft is working on a new addition to its Skype product family, known as Skype Teams.


MSPowerUser.com, which first reported the existence of Skype Teams, calls it Microsoft's "direct Slack competitor", citing "people familiar with the matter".

Microsoft is rumored to have considered buying Slack earlier this year for as much as $8 billion. Allegedly, Microsoft founder Bill Gates and current CEO Satya Nadella weren't in favor of the deal, as they believed Skype was Microsoft's way forward in the messaging-focused collaboration space.

A Sept. 2 Microsoft job posting that mentions the existence of Skype Teams doesn't shed much light on exactly what this new group/product will bring to the table.

"Skype Teams is the future of collaboration and messaging," said the posting, which doesn't mention Slack or any features of the forthcoming Skype Teams offering."This is an influential role on an influential team, and you'll be expected to work across the entire engineering team as needed to be successful," the Skype Teams job posting said.

I asked Microsoft officials for comment on Skype Teams and for more on how and if it will help Microsoft against Slack. A spokesperson provided the following statement:

"Microsoft is always building and testing new solutions to help people collaborate and get more done, but we don't have anything specific to share at this time."

I have to admit I'm confused in where Yammer sits in all this. Microsoft bought enterprise social-networking vendor Yammer in 2012. Microsoft has ended up siphoning off much of Yammer's technology for inclusion in other products, and it's struggling to keep the rest of it alive by refocusing it on team collaboration. Just recently, Microsoft added the promised Office 365 Groups support to Yammer.

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