UPDATED 14:24 EST / APRIL 09 2019

2019-04_risman_office-365_file-preview CLOUD

With new integrations, Slack embeds Office 365 into the team chat experience

Slack Technologies Inc. is making a big push for the 120 million-plus business users who do their work in Office 365.

This morning, the company launched an extensive collection of integrations for Microsoft Corp.’s productivity suite that will let teams collaborate on documents and schedule meetings directly in their chat channels. Slack is essentially looking to remove, or at least significantly reduce, the need to open Office 365 applications in order to access their features.

The first set of integrations focuses on file sharing. Slack can now preview entire Word documents, PowerPoint presentations and Excel spreadsheets in the chat window, even if they contain multiple pages. Files are hosted entirely in the platform, meaning users don’t have to download anything locally to view them.

There are several ways to take advantage of the document previews. Slack has updated its Outlook extension to let workers send emails and document attachments to a chat channel, which avoids the extra step of launching the service in a new tab.

Alternatively, if a user already has Slack open, they can click the plus sign symbol next to the message compose field to bring up a likewise new OneDrive import tool. It provides the ability to pulls files directly from Microsoft’s cloud storage service.

The second set of Office 365 integrations aim to simplify calendar management. Slack can now look at a user’s Outlook Calendar entries and automatically update their chat status to reflect their availability, as well as display notifications for meeting invites.

These notifications are quite versatile. They show if a meeting conflicts with a user’s existing appointments, allow workers to confirm attendance and can display a video conference link. That last feature is compatible not only with Microsoft’s own Skype for Business service but also with WebEx and Zoom, two popular alternatives.

Photo: Slack

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