I’m attending the Microsoft MVP Summit (third time, brain still explodes) and while I can’t say anything about what I’ve seen and heard (NDA, don’t you know), I can say that I am very impressed with Microsoft’s emphasis on providing customers with an enhanced array of tools to do their jobs. Back in the day Office was Office and that was that; you did what you could with the tools. You wrangled, you cajoled, you did what you could but the technologies that supported Office were pretty limited when compared to those of today. In essence, you had a hammer and you used it no matter what, even if what you actually needed was a screwdriver.
Fast forward to the modern experience in Office 365. Microsoft is now all about giving us numerous tools so that we can choose the tool that best serves our needs or best fits with how we work. Rather than handing us a hammer they are now handing us a full freaking toolkit. SharePoint, Delve, Sway, Graph, Flow, OneDrive … you name it and Microsoft seems to be there with something that fits the bill. And sometimes they hand us tools that somewhat overlap but that’s okay because you get to pick what works for you.
Case in point , Outlook Groups and Microsoft Teams . At first glance it looks like they are the same thing and, in fact, they do share many common pieces. But they are aimed a slightly different audiences with divirgent requirements. From my point of view, Groups are more oriented to individual users that need to spin up a quick way to collaborate with a few other users whereas Teams seem to be a more “formal” iteration of the same idea with more tools and the better management pieces required for a larger scope (read as more users or team members). I’ve heard some people describe Teams as “Groups 2.0” and that might be true but I think there is room for both in the toolbox.
Microsoft has made no bones about using Office 365 as the nexus for everything moving forward (well, Azure, too, but you get my meaning). They are building out the feature set at a rapid pace and there is quite literally “something for everyone” in the mix. If Office 365 is ultimately all about enabling wide collaboration with minimum barriers along the way then it only makes sense to put easy yet powerful collaboration enabling tools in the hands of the end user. Groups and Teams are the user’s entry-point into the larger collaborative framework that is Office 365. And the most elegant thing about it is users don’t really have to give it a second thought, they can just pick their tool, create their collaboration point and get on with the task at hand. That is both simple and incredibly powerful.
Hammer or screwdriver? That’s easy, choose the one that fits the job! Isn’t choice a wonderful thing?