What's the Difference Between Microsoft's Chat Products? Microsoft Teams vs. Skype (and more)

May, 17 2017

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Sharing information has never been more important than today. In the digital revolution, chat is transforming the way we access information in the workplace and stay ahead of the game in a rapidly evolving market. Much of that evolution includes chat itself. With recent chat products like Microsoft Teams (and Talla!), we’re seeing a new technology emerge in the competitive business arena.

Heard of Yammer, Skype for Business, Lync, andSharePoint Groups? In addition to recently launched Teams, Microsoft has created a number of conversational interfaces like these for Office 365—and they all integrate with each other, too. Confused? So are many of the people we talk to about Talla’s integration with MS Teams.

Here’s how to think about the differences between all current chat products. Like our human conversations, chat products are each unique in how they address:

  1. What we want to talk about (content)
  2. Who we want to talk to (audience)
  3. How we want to talk (delivery)

The question why is the reason we share information and collaborate creatively with each other in the first place. Of course, when (or pace of collaboration) is how chat itself was born and differentiated from email.

Microsoft Teams 

MS Teams is much more than just chat. It's a chat-based workspace that centralizes your workday. You can create chat channels to discuss different work topics with the ability to share and work on documents directly in the app. You can view and access any files shared within the team. MS Teams has a clean organization of chat channels that can support multiple large teams. You can follow your activity feed to view when you’ve been mentioned without needing to read through all the conversations within your company. New to MS Teams? You can ask Microsoft's’ preloaded chatbots like “T-Bot” about how to use MS Teams or “Who-Bot” to find team members who have the expertise to answer your question. The platform itself does not have voice or video calling, although its integration with Skype for Business allows you to switch between the two platforms. MS Teams works best for internal team or company collaboration when sharing sensitive work information.

MS Teams and SfB are the only Microsoft products that can integrate with bots, like Talla, to build additional features into your team’s workspace and knowledge database.

MS Teams can integrate with any chatbot, and is where developers are focusing their time on building powerful integrations, while SfB can only integrate with a limited selection. For this reason, MS Teams is the best Microsoft product for functioning as your central hub of conversation. Then you can integrate Skype for Business with your MS Teams to add video calling features for a complete collaboration experience.

Cost: $12.50 per user/month, included in Office 365

Skype for Business

Video calls are the main feature of Skype for Business. SfB has advanced calling options such as recording meetings, sharing and transferring presenter’s screen, whiteboard annotating, and editing PowerPoint for real-time collaboration of up to 250 participants. As a large collaboration tool, SfB is often used for delivering final or near-final work in a presentation format. Unlike MS Teams’ chat channels or Yammer’s public feeds as main features, Sfb has instant messaging (like chat’s direct messaging) and persistent chat (a single chat room for all users) as a side feature to the platform.

Most helpfully, you can add chatbots as “contacts.” At the moment, there is a limited list of chatbots that can be added to SfB, which you can view in Skype’s bot directory. Again, SfB functions best as a side feature for video calling for your MS Teams.

How about Skype vs. Skype Meetings vs. Skype for Business? It comes down to who you want to talk to (i.e. how many people) in your video calls.

Cost: $5.00 per user/month, included in Office 365

Lync 2013 (now only available as Skype for Business)

Why do most people use Skype for Business instead of Lync? Because Lync is actually Skype for Business. In April 2015, Microsoft renamed their product as Skype for Business and rolled out some new features and interface. Unless you’re a die-hard for vintage interface, we recommend switching over to the new SfB interface to avoid confusion when communicating with other people, troubleshooting, and adding chatbots to your platform.

SharePoint Groups 

SharePoint can actually refer to multiple SharePoint products or technologies, including SharePoint Online, SharePoint Server, SharePoint Foundation, SharePoint Designer, and OneDrive for Business Sync. Here’s a hint: It’s like a Microsoft version of Google Drive for information access, storage, and sharing—but also for website creation.

So what’s SharePoint Groups? Groups refers to the users, not the platform. A SharePoint Group is a collection of users that have the same set of permissions for accessing and managing site information. Generally, SharePoint Groups are organized by task: creation and design of content, editing, and reviewing. You can set these permissions by navigating to the “Site Settings” page of your site. Locate the “Users and Permissions” group, and then select “Site Permissions.”

Cost: $5.00 per user/month, included in Office 365


Yammer is an enterprise social network for sharing documents, photos, and videos. Think Facebook for your company. Conversations are started by posting in public feeds (updates, upload, poll, praise, event, or announcement) that people can “like” and comment on. Yammer is used for company-wide broadcasts of non-urgent information. Compiling this information in a public feed allows people to log in and read this information at their leisure.

Again, Microsoft’s chat products are built based on the different functions of your workplace conversations. Just remember—At the moment, most Microsoft products are limited to integrations within the Microsoft domain. MS Teams and Skype for Business are the only Microsoft products that integrate with chatbots (with limited integration capabilities in SfB).

Chat empowers instant communication. But how you want to have those conversations is a question that can be answered in many creative ways. Microsoft, as well as other companies like Slack, Google, and Amazon, offers a number of chat tools for your team’s collaboration—and we predict that we’ll only see more emerge as the market explores and develops chat technology.

Still confused about your company’s use of Microsoft products? Or have a question for your IT team about general troubleshooting with your company tech?

You can integrate Talla’s ServiceDesk with your MS Teams and ask the experts in your company for their advice. Talla is an A.I.-powered assistant that lives in MS Teams, Slack, and HipChat to allow your IT and HR departments to automate answering internal questions, manage and prioritize requests, and deliver a better employee experience. 

Yammer cost: Beginning free plan with limited features, included in Office 365

Schedule a Demo of Talla's IT & HR Service Assistant for Microsoft Teams


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