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The Differences Between Microsoft Teams' Tabs, Connectors, and Bots

The Differences Between Microsoft Teams' Tabs, Connectors, and Bots

Microsoft is promising over 150 integration with Microsoft Teams when it launches early next year. How all those apps connects, however, will vary widely. Here's what you should know.

When Microsoft Teams hits General Availability early next year, its slated to have over 150 integrations, ranging from partners like Asana, Hootsuite, and Zendesk to, of course, Microsoft's own product lines, including PowerPoint and Power BI.

But how each of those integrations will work and be presented to users will vary widely, with some appearing as chat bots right alongside other conversations and others taking over a tab that provides an interactive view right into the application that users can tweak right from within Teams.


Connectors are perhaps the most straightforward integration: They pipe data in, and optionally format it into cards that provide a richer experience (such as showing someone a news story, an App to download, or a customer complaint that needs a response).

Connectors work across devices, and the connector model used within Teams is the same one used by Exchange, so if you've developed for that, you should have a head start. Connectors can't be configured while on your mobile device.


A big step forward in interactivity over Connectors, Bots can be added that users can direct message, or they can be dropped into channels. Microsoft suggests using them for managing workflows, checking in on team morale and status updates, and answer internal questions. It's all built right on Microsoft's Bot framework, so there's already a lot of Bots that should be easy to bring into Teams, with many more on the way. 


Tabs are the most extensive integration, actually providing a dedicated view into an application within a canvas on a given channel. Persistent chat is maintained for the Tab, so that it's easy to dip in and out without losing a sense of what's being discussed or collaborating on how to tackle a given challenge. Microsoft representatives said that while Tabs wouldn't offer the full power of a given application, in many instances Tabs would provide enough functionality that it would be all many users might ever need for the work that they do.


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