Protocol | Enterprise

Meet Loop, Microsoft’s new Office-friendly app for project management and collaboration

Microsoft Loop is a new app for its Office productivity suite that lets users collaborate on projects within Microsoft Teams and Outlook.

A gif of Microsoft's Loop interface

Loop will roll out gradually, but will eventually be a standalone app.

Image: Microsoft

As office workers settle into new routines driven by the displacement of the pandemic and the availability of powerful new collaboration tools, Microsoft wants to make sure workers stay in Office.

The company will introduce Microsoft Loop, a new collaboration app that lives inside the broader Microsoft Office suite, later on Tuesday at Microsoft Ignite. Loop will roll out gradually, starting as a series of actions built on Microsoft's Fluid Framework that can be used within Microsoft Teams, Outlook and other key parts of Office, but will eventually be a standalone project-management and collaboration app.

"One of the things you might be wondering is under what circumstances does Microsoft decide we should launch a new app?" Joe Belfiore, a longtime Microsoft executive across its gaming and devices business who is now corporate vice president for the Office Product Group, told Protocol.

"A big 'aha' for us was that a lot of teams of people use applications like Word and PowerPoint incredibly effectively, for finished products," he said. "But the place where we saw an opportunity was to be focused on small-group collaboration around the part of the process where they're thinking and planning and brainstorming, where formatting doesn't really matter that much."

Loop will roll out in three phases over the next year or so. The first elements are called "components," essentially small widgets that can be launched from Microsoft Teams to allow groups to collaborate on tracking the status of a project or voting on next steps.

"These are really our atomic units of productivity that can help you collaborate and get work done right in the flow of your work," said Wangui McKelvey, general manager of Microsoft 365. "So it can be in a chat or an email, or even inside of a meeting."

Later, Microsoft will unveil Loop "pages," which are collections of components based around an event or task that can also incorporate Office files and emails. And Loop "workspaces" will allow teams to work on a variety of projects at the same time using any or all of the apps across the Office suite.

"What we're trying to accomplish right now, is really delivering a new form of Office that embraces collaboration, new media (and) AI in a pretty deep way," Belfiore said.

Image: Microsoft

Keep 'em in the loop

One of Microsoft's oldest products, Office sits at the heart of its cloud computing strategy and is a widely used suite of tools that is starting to expand well beyond its word-processing, spreadsheet and slide-presentation roots.

Microsoft Teams has been the most notable part of that expansion over the last few years, an upgrade to Microsoft's older Skype for Business communications hub that is often compared directly to Salesforce's Slack as a central collaboration tool. Loop is a nod to a newer collection of remote productivity and collaboration tools that exploded during the pandemic, including Notion, Asana, Figma and Miro.

But Loop also echoes another trend changing the way enterprise software is bought and sold. Companies that embraced a wide variety of software-as-a-service tools over the last decade are starting to become overwhelmed with the cost and complexity of managing a dozen or more different tools from different vendors across their networks.

Assuming it works as advertised, Loop gives businesses that have chosen to go all-in on Microsoft Office as their central workplace tool some of the same real-time collaboration features that have become very popular in this era of hybrid work, nicely confined to the Microsoft Office walled garden.

"I hope you'll get a sense that we're really moving things a pretty long way to embrace new forms of communication, new mediums, and that Office really is taking up a new level of value that we can create for our customers," Belfiore said.

Microsoft hasn't decided whether Loop will eventually be included as part of the standard Microsoft 365 subscription package or as part of one of the higher-tier options when the rest of the product ships, Belfiore said.

"It's definitely our intent to create an experience that will have value for any group of people that wants to be planning, creating and brainstorming together. But it really will add even more value when that's combined with the full power of Teams, Outlook or Excel," he said.

Protocol | Workplace

CTO to CEO: The case for putting the tech expert in charge

Parag Agrawal is one of the few tech industry CTOs to nab the top job. But the tides may be shifting.

Parag Agrawal’s appointment to Twitter's CEO seat is already alerting a new generation of CTOs that the top job may not be so out of reach.

Photo: Twitter

Parag Agrawal’s ascension to CEO of Twitter is notable for a few reasons. For one, at 37, he’s now the youngest CEO of an S&P 500 company, beating out Zuckerberg. For another, his path to the top as a CTO-turned-CEO is still relatively rare in the corporate world.

His leap suggests that CEO succession trends may be shifting, as technology increasingly takes the center stage in business and strategy decisions not just for tech companies, but for the business world more broadly.

Keep Reading Show less
Michelle Ma

Michelle Ma (@himichellema) is a reporter at Protocol, where she writes about management, leadership and workplace issues in tech. Previously, she was a news editor of live journalism and special coverage for The Wall Street Journal. Prior to that, she worked as a staff writer at Wirecutter. She can be reached at mma@protocol.com.

The fintech developers who made mobile banking as routine as texting or online shopping aren't done. The next frontier for innovation is open banking – fintech builders are enabling consumers to be at the center of where and how their data is used to provide the services they want and need.

Most people don't even realize they're using open banking services today. If they connected their investment and banking accounts in a personal financial management solution or app, they're using open banking. Perhaps they've seen ads about how they can improve their credit score by uploading pay stubs or utility records to that same app – this is also powered by open banking.

Keep Reading Show less
Bob Schukai
Bob Schukai is Executive Vice President of Technology Development, New Digital Infrastructure & Fintech at Mastercard, where he leads the technical design, execution and support of innovative open banking and fintech solutions, as well as next generation technologies to support global payment and data capabilities. Prior to Mastercard, Schukai’s work focused on cognitive computing, financial technology, blockchain, user experience and digital identity. He is also a member of the Institute for Electrical and Electronics Engineers.
Protocol | Workplace

Google contractor says she was fired for 'ungoogley' behavior

According to a charge filed with the National Labor Relations Board, "ungoogley" is Google's term for having a bad attitude.

A contractor at Google staffing firm Modis claims she was fired from her job after asking about pay.

Photo: Future Publishing/Getty Images

A contractor at Google staffing firm Modis claims she was fired from her job for "ungoogley" behavior after asking about holiday pay at a meeting with management, according to a charge filed with the National Labor Relations Board by a lawyer for the Alphabet Workers Union.

Tuesday Carne said in an interview with Protocol that she was fired after just nine days of working in the data contracting facility in South Carolina. Carne's termination letter (which Protocol reviewed) called her behavior at the meeting "unacceptable and 'ungoogley'" and claimed that her behavior was the reason for her firing.

Keep Reading Show less
Anna Kramer

Anna Kramer is a reporter at Protocol (Twitter: @ anna_c_kramer, email: akramer@protocol.com), where she writes about labor and workplace issues. Prior to joining the team, she covered tech and small business for the San Francisco Chronicle and privacy for Bloomberg Law. She is a recent graduate of Brown University, where she studied International Relations and Arabic and wrote her senior thesis about surveillance tools and technological development in the Middle East.

Protocol | Policy

Biden FCC nominee Sohn is walking a tightrope with Republicans

Gigi Sohn faces plenty of GOP opposition, but the longtime net-neutrality advocate is hoping to pick up a little Republican support as she deals with Democrats’ narrow margins.

Gigi Sohn’s work for net neutrality has become an issue in her confirmation hearings for the FCC.

Photo: Alex Wong/Getty Images

Gigi Sohn wouldn’t mind getting support from a Republican or two, and it’d certainly make her path back to the Federal Communications Commission easier.

During her Senate Commerce Committee confirmation on Wednesday, Sohn, a progressive favorite and longtime net-neutrality advocate, touted her commitment to ensuring a diversity of voices on the airwaves, her past fights for small conservative networks she personally disagrees with and her habit of socializing with those she battles on policy.

Keep Reading Show less
Ben Brody

Ben Brody (@ BenBrodyDC) is a senior reporter at Protocol focusing on how Congress, courts and agencies affect the online world we live in. He formerly covered tech policy and lobbying (including antitrust, Section 230 and privacy) at Bloomberg News, where he previously reported on the influence industry, government ethics and the 2016 presidential election. Before that, Ben covered business news at CNNMoney and AdAge, and all manner of stories in and around New York. He still loves appearing on the New York news radio he grew up with.

Protocol | Workplace

Microsoft Teams is going after small businesses

Microsoft Teams Essentials offers longer, bigger meetings for a relatively small price tag.

Companies can now buy a standalone version of Teams.

Photo: Mika Baumeister/Unsplash

Microsoft announced Wednesday that companies can now buy a standalone version of Teams — one of its most important products and a major player in work messaging and video chat, alongside Slack and Zoom. The product, called Microsoft Teams Essentials, aims to give small or medium-sized businesses a communication hub that costs less than its competitors'.

Microsoft will charge small businesses $4 per user per month for Microsoft Teams Essentials, while Zoom’s cheapest paid plan is $14.99 per user per month and Slack’s is $6.67 per user each month, when billed annually. The free version of Microsoft Teams still exists, as do the various other Microsoft 365 plans that include Teams. Teams Essentials offers longer meeting times, larger group meetings and more cloud storage.

Keep Reading Show less
Lizzy Lawrence

Lizzy Lawrence ( @LizzyLaw_) is a reporter at Protocol, covering tools and productivity in the workplace. She's a recent graduate of the University of Michigan, where she studied sociology and international studies. She served as editor in chief of The Michigan Daily, her school's independent newspaper. She's based in D.C., and can be reached at llawrence@protocol.com.

Latest Stories