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Microsoft announces Slack rival, Teams

Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella
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Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella

Microsoft on Wednesday announced a new chat-based workspace, Teams, in a move that will integrate Office into a Slack-like product.

"We see an opportunity to build a more open, a more fluid environment," said Kirk Koenigsbauer, corporate vice president of Office 365 client apps and services. "One that helps build a team culture that is both fun and inclusive, so everyone has a voice."

The application, which lets users talk to their co-workers, supports tabs for other Microsoft cloud services, like access to files and Skype video-conferencing. Teams also offers multifactor authentication and encryption. It works on desktop, Windows phone, iOS and Android, and is available Wednesday as a customer preview, or widely in the first quarter of 2017.

The interface, like Facebook, uses threaded posts with comments on them, and can integrate emojis, chat bots, Tweets, polls, and mark messages by importance.

Microsoft has deepened its push into social media over the past five years, purchasing Yammer for $1.2 billion in 2012, andLinkedIn for $26.2 billion earlier this year.

As consumers use messaging platforms for more tasks, such as hailing cars and making payments, messaging has also played an increasingly larger role in the workplace. Upstarts like Slack and Symphony have challenged the dominance of work email, like Microsoft's Outlook. Facebook has also released a workplace product.

Slack responded to the event in a full-page ad in the New York Times.

"We've spent tens of thousands of hours talking to customers and adapting Slack to find the grooves that match all those human quirks," the ad reads. "The internal transparency and sense of shared purpose that Slack-using teams discover is not an accident. Tiny details make big differences."