The History of Microsoft Teams


Story by David Maldow, Mio Dispatch

Microsoft Teams passed 300 million monthly users in May 2023 and shows few signs of stopping. This stat, let alone the other mega numbers and stats, makes it a leader among today’s breed of business communications platforms.

Today’s business collaboration apps are the Swiss Army Knives for our desktop workers. Is Microsoft Teams primarily a chat app, or is it a video conferencing app, or is it a file sharing app, or is it 100 other features and integrations?

Yes. It is all these things. This means the history of Microsoft Teams is really the history of several separate Microsoft initiatives and their final melding into one unified product.

While the story takes a few twists and turns, it all comes down to one big decision made by Bill Gates in 2016 (teaser alert).
The early days

The path to the top for Microsoft Teams wasn’t always clear. Microsoft has long been interested in desktop video and chat, with various approaches, and mixed success.

As far back as 2007, Microsoft believed that chat, voice, and video should be combined into one product. 15 years later they have been proven right.

So, what happened in 2007? Microsoft purchased a company called Parlano, which had a team chat app product called MindAlign.

What is really telling is that Microsoft sold MindAlign that same year. They weren’t interested in the app, they wanted to integrate Parlano’s chat technology into their existing Office Communicator software. Even as far back as 2007, they were key to desktop communications being a single app solution.

Microsoft’s strategy with Office Communicator seems almost psychic for its time. The business chat craze was years away as email was still considered the main means of desktop communication.

Slack itself didn’t launch until 2013, but Microsoft was building its first Slack competitor in 2007!

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