Microsoft Teams has been a strong focus for the company over the last couple of years as the collaboration tool at the heart of Microsoft 365. But while Teams is predominantly about communication, a new tool called Loop is focused on actual collaboration.
Microsoft announced Loop today on its blog (opens in new tab) alongside a number of updates to Microsoft 365. Loop will begin rolling out with integrations to Outlook, Teams, OneNote and more later this year, but Microsoft is already calling it "the next big breakthrough Microsoft 365."
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Loop is comprised of three distinct pieces: Loop Workspaces, Loop Pages and Loop Components.
Loop Workspaces is an overview for an entire project that lets everyone interact while also seeing the latest progress as a whole or on any specific tasks.
Loop Pages at a basic level is a document for collaboration that allows for easy sharing of a variety of elements including links, files or data that are contributing to a larger project. Microsoft's vision is that these can either be just micro documents looking at a very specific task or that they can easily expand out to cover a much broader vision.
Last, but perhaps most critical are Loop Components. Microsoft calls them "atomic units of productivity." These can be basic lists or tables of information or something far more complex, but the key is that they stay synced wherever they are shared, allowing for more reliable inter-app communication across Microsoft 365 apps.
Another new addition to Microsoft's lineup that will help to power Loop is Context IQ. This is a new AI feature that will help to "turn insights into action" by trying to interpret what you might need during your workday and making suggestions for you. Some examples given are suggesting colleagues add to an email, suggesting relevant files for an email or document, or locating available calendar times for a meeting with coworkers.
Despite Microsoft's dominance in the productivity realm with Microsoft 365, collaboration has remained a key advantage for Google's offerings and while Microsoft's Fluid Framework lay the groundwork for improved collaboration, Loop looks like a much more cohesive attempt to solve this problem.
Loop Components will be rolling out first, with the standalone app that encompasses Loop Workspaces and Loop Pages will be arriving later. Microsoft has no further details on timing beyond "later this year" and is really only giving us a brief glimpse of the app so far. While Loop Components seems like a great addition to Microsoft 365, it will be interesting to see if Microsoft can get adoption on the Loop app itself, with Teams at the center of all things Microsoft 365 it may be difficult to push yet another collaboration tool.