With an aim to take Slack, a messaging system for businesses, head on, Microsoft announced Microsoft teams after months of rumours and speculations. At an event in New York on November 2, the global tech giant announced Microsoft teams, its Slack competitor. Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella explained the app as a ‘chat-based workspace,’ which is meant to unite teams for both productive and casual conversation. Meanwhile, Slack responded to this launch by putting out a full page ad or an open letter in The New York Times as well as put it online. In the advertisement, Slack had some ‘friendly advice’ to give to Microsoft so that it can join the ‘revolution’. Slack started the letter with, “Wow. Big news! Congratulations on today’s announcements. We’re genuinely excited to have some competition.”
Saying that features don’t matter, Slack added, “You’re not going to create something people really love by making a big list of Slack’s features and simply checking those boxes. The revolution that has led to millions of people flocking to Slack has been, and continues to be, driven by something much deeper.” These lines by Slack suggest as if Microsoft suddenly jumped the gun. By Microsoft, Teams has been a long time coming. As a matter of fact, though the apps might look similar, both the companies have a different agenda. Microsoft wants to improve its cloud-based productivity tools since a few years and instead of just being a mimic, it wants to push its productivity offering in a much broader sense. In the enterprise space, indeed Teams and Slack will compete hard, but Microsoft is also doing a few things differently. The Teams app is integrated with Skype, Office apps, SharePoint and many other features, and is not free; instead only available for Office 365 subscribers.
Next point that Slack raised was the importance of an open platform. Pointed to the 750 third-party apps in its directory, Slack says in the ad, “We are deeply committed to making our customers’ experience of their existing tools even better, no matter who makes them. We know that playing nice with others isn’t exactly your MO, but if you can’t offer people an open platform that brings everything together into one place and makes their lives dramatically simpler, it’s just not going to work.” Funnily enough Slack itself is not ‘open’, as it regulates and controls which apps get in. This point only goes in favour of Microsoft, as it has the highest open source developer contributors on GitHub. In fact, CEO completely changed the way Microsoft works since he got the post in 2014.
Slack then advises Microsoft to ‘do this with love’. The letter says, “When we push a same-day fix in response to a customer’s tweet, agonize over the best way to slip some humor into release notes, run design sprints with other software vendors to ensure our products work together seamlessly or achieve a 100-minute average turnaround time for a thoughtful, human response to each support inquiry, that’s not ‘going above and beyond.’ It’s not ‘us being clever.’ That’s how we do. That’s who we are.” This a good point to make, but still needs to go a long way to reach the ultimate ‘love’. The product that Slack has created is great, undoubtedly. But its apps are still not up to the mark and has still not delivered on the threaded messages feature.
Even Facebook announced its Workplace platform which even looks like the social media website as well. Why didn’t Slack say anything then? Is it because Microsoft tried buying it a couple of years back? Slack finally says that it is ‘here to stay’. And with their amazing product and a great user base, there are not two ways about it, but it is a bit tough to understand why this ‘open letter’, which only shows a lack of confidence.