One of the most eagerly awaited Microsoft Teams features is almost here

Microsoft is readying a significant update for Teams that will unlock a range of new collaboration opportunities for businesses.

According to a new entry (opens in new tab) in the Microsoft 365 product roadmap, the company is almost ready to release its new Teams Connect shared channels feature to all customers, after launching a limited preview back in March 2022.

The feature allows organizations to invite external users into a shared Microsoft Teams environment, opening the door to cross-business collaboration with clients and partners.

Shared channels in Microsoft Teams

Although Microsoft Teams has enjoyed immense success since the start of the pandemic - now serving upwards of 270 million monthly active users - the platform has, until now, focused predominantly on interactions between co-workers.

However, the arrival of Teams Connect shared channels will turn the service into a hub for collaboration between businesses too, providing secure environments in which multiple parties can hold video meetings and exchange messages, files and other data.

“Workplace collaboration has become increasingly digital, and cloud-based. And in our interconnected world, we need to collaborate with people beyond our own organization—communicating with partners, following up with suppliers, and reaching out to customers,” Microsoft said when the feature was first announced.

“With shared channels, multiple organizations can work together in a shared space. Have conversations, schedule a meeting, share, and co-author files, and collaborate on apps, without ever switching tenants.”

The drive to bring cross-business collaboration to Teams is part of a wider effort to make the platform a central hub for working, containing everything an employee might need to execute on their objectives.

As part of this push, Microsoft is also funnelling energy and resources into building a strong ecosystem of third-party apps for the platform, thereby minimizing the need for users to switch constantly between different services to complete tasks. Instead, everything can happen inside Teams.

By bringing communications that would usually take place over email into Teams too, Microsoft will further reduce the need to switch contexts in a way that might hinder productivity.

Although the new shared channels feature will remain in preview for now, Microsoft says users can expect a full, public release by the end of July 2022.

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