Hands-on: Microsoft Teams fails in its debut


For months now, we’ve been hearing about Microsoft Teams, Microsoft’s much-heralded Slack killer. It’s now in public rollout, so Office 365 Enterprise subscribers’ IT admins can turn it on and have users test it for themselves. That’s what InfoWorld’s parent company has done. Sadly, it’s clear the hype is unwarranted, at least at this point.

We all know , and Teams is meant to bury that corpse and present us a replacement. But in the meantime, Slack has gained a strong following, thanks to being a great product that works well, is highly capable, and runs on any device you might use. It’s very easy to get addicted to Slack, and it’s set a high bar. (Atlassian’s HipChat is capable, but nowhere near as well designed as Slack.)

The Teams rolled out now is technically a public beta, though you can easily miss that fact in its marketing. But even as a late-stage beta, it isn’t anywhere as good as it should be. It doesn’t hold a candle to Slack, in fact. I’m reminded of Windows Phone, which debuted a few years after the iPhone but seems to have been designed as if BlackBerry was still the competition. Teams feels like that in the face of the now-several-years-old Slack—it’s the Windows Phone of business chat.

By the time it becomes a production-class product, Teams had better be as good as Slack. Microsoft is the underdog here, and relying on its installed base would be a dangerous strategy—as Microsoft should know from its Yammer, Windows 8, and Windows Phone debacles. Microsoft’s imprimatur no longer guarantees a product’s adoption. It needs to actually be good.

across platforms, so now it can truly be your standard internal communications tool. I’d like to see Microsoft skip Skype for Business’s “almost failed” step when it comes to Teams.