From an Internal Memo to Microsoft Teams
Microsoft’s journey into communications started on 26 May 1995 when Bill Gates sent the now famous Internet tidal wave memo to his senior management team. It saw a near immediate shift in the company’s focus to realign its offerings and product lines to the World Wide Web. Today, many regard Microsoft as one of few major companies that acted fast enough to be part of the Internet from the start.
After launching MSN Messenger, an instant messaging platform in 1999, a major development came in 2007 when Microsoft staked its claim in the VoIP market. Known as Office Communications Server 2007, it brought together VoIP, presence, instant messaging and conferencing. At the same time, the company launched its first videoconferencing system known as RoundTable. Jeff Raikes, president of Microsoft’s Business Division called it the end of an era: “The era of dialling blind, the era of playing phone tag, the era of voicemail jail…that era is ending.”
Over the next 20 years, they moved quickly and continued to disrupt and shake-up the Unified Communications market. Some major milestones included the launch of Lync in 2011, acquiring Skype Communications in 2011, and launching Skype for Business in 2015. Fast forward to 2017 when Microsoft irrevocably changed the Unified Communications game with the launch of Teams. Initially available as part of the subscription-based Office 365 suite, a free version was introduced little over a year later. By the end of 2018, Microsoft Teams was the most widely used programme of its kind.