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Could Microsoft Loop be the future of collaboration?

13 December 2021
  

Microsoft Loop is the new application punted to change how people collaborate with their colleagues and perform daily tasks.  

To understand how Loop works, think of a team of people working together on a project. Depending on their role, the task at hand or the device they're on, team members will be working across apps such as Outlook, Teams, OneNote, Excel Word etc. One of the central pieces of collaborative information might be a list of “open project issues” which is discussed and reviewed frequently. Now imagine that whether you’re accessing that list in an Outlook email, a Teams channel chat, or in Excel or Word, you’re able to share, see and update the issues collaboratively, at the same time, across apps and devices. That is what Loop allows you to do. The list of issues is effectively handled as a content component, and that component can be inserted and collaborated on within a range of supported apps.  

If this sounds familiar, yes, this is what's known as the Fluid development framework, also referred to as Live Components. All of this – and more – is now becoming Loop. 

In a recent blog post, Microsoft 365 General Manager Wangui McKelvey acknowledged that people are looking beyond the confines of Office for their document-editing needs as the world moves to remote and hybrid work. 

“New kinds of content, formats, and channels demanded more flexible, powerful, and fluid tools to allow everyone to deliver a more impactful message and collaborate at their own pace,” McKelvey wrote. “So, Microsoft Office is changing with the times.” 

Microsoft Loop is being compared to productivity apps like Notion which have seen large uptake in the past few years by teams needing to create different types of content on one canvas. That’s something that Microsoft hasn’t been able to provide, at least until now. Unlike Notion, Loop can be used both as a standalone app as well as inside other apps in the form of embeddable components.  

Loop combines a flexible canvas with portable components that move freely and stay in sync across Microsoft 365 apps, enabling teams to plan and create together.  

First unveiled at Microsoft’s annual Ignite conference last month, Loop is made up of three elements: components, pages and workspaces. 

Microsoft Loop components 

Loop components are interactive canvases that move freely between apps such as Teams and Outlook where teams are already ideating and communicating. These components provide more flexibility when it comes to collaborating on and sharing different types of content across Microsoft 365 apps.  

Fluid Framework technology was first talked about in 2019 at the Microsoft Build event. Live components are an evolution of Microsoft Fluid Framework and this is the first feature of the Microsoft Loop app to become available in Teams. "Live components" will be renamed "Loop components" in early 2022. 

Microsoft Loop components are being rolled out first to OneNote, Outlook and Teams but will ultimately appear in multiple Microsoft applications. Components stay up to date across different applications, so people don’t have to worry about sharing the latest version of a file. 

Microsoft has developed ready-to-use Loop components such as a voting table that makes it easy to brainstorm or decide on ideas or the status tracker that helps gather information, track progress and maintain an up-to-date view of the project across the team. 

Screen Shot 2021-12-09 at 5.51.26 pm

Loop components could also be as robust as a customer record drawn from the Dynamics 365 for tracking sales opportunities. The components are supported across the Microsoft 365 suite but controlled from SharePoint Online and not from the Teams admin centre.  

Check out these Microsoft Loop Resources (clearpeople.com) 

Visual examples of Loop in action

Loop_demo video

 

Loop_components voting table 

 

Microsoft Loop Pages  

Loop pages are described as 'flexible canvases” where users can organize various components and pull in helpful elements like links, files, or data in ways that suit your specific project needs. 

These Loop Pages are essentially a document in which people can type text, enter reactions and find related Loop components, links etc. The user interface is similar to the Whiteboard digital brainstorming app in Office. 

Loop_Thoughts and high five

 

Microsoft Loop Workspaces 

Microsoft Loop workspaces are areas or shared spaces where people can check progress on shared initiatives in a project hub. People can reach multiple pages from a workspace. Microsoft Loop workspaces make it easy for users to catch up on what everyone is working on, react to ideas and track progress toward shared goals. 

Loop_People moving in and out of pages

 

4 ways Microsoft Loop benefits businesses  

  • Unlocks a variety of opportunities and ways to streamline workflows. 
  • Minimizes the number of apps workers are required to juggle. 
  • Provides more flexibility in how work gets done. 
  • Ensures everyone always has access to the latest information. 

 

MS Loop use cases 

Clearly Loop provides a great deal of flexibility and scope, but some of the main two use cases for it are in projects and meetings. 

Projects

Among other functions, MS Loop lets you assign tasks and projects to your team members in a single location. 

Meetings

With MS Loop you can screenshare a Loop page and easily jump to other documents or create new whiteboards in a single click. 

 

How MS Loop and Whiteboard work together 

Loop components will also be available in the Microsoft 365 Whiteboard app, which means you’ll be able to see the same whiteboard in-sync from within Teams, Outlook or elsewhere. Whiteboard will be integrated into the new Loop app and the whiteboard component can be shared across other collaboration apps, like Teams and Outlook. This means that if you are in the Loop app, you’ll be able to create new whiteboards in a single click – kicking off a brainstorming session right from within your Loop page.  

Plus: Loop components can be developed 

Developers or ISVs can create their own loop components with existing message extensions apps and Graph Connector integrations. Microsoft will share more details in next year’s Build conference. 

When is Loop available? 

Microsoft Loop components started rolling out in November 2021 and over time will be available across Microsoft 365 apps, such as Microsoft Teams, Outlook and OneNote. 

 

According to Microsoft this is just the start. Additional components are expected to be announced at Microsoft Build next year. We think Loop sounds really promising and opens up new ways for collaboration and creativity. Are you looking forward to seeing what Loop can do? 

 

Author bio

Gabriel Karawani

Gabriel Karawani

My focus is the vision and evolution of our Atlas Digital Workspace for Microsoft Office 365. As one of two co-founders, my role is a wonderful mix of technology and business. I have had the privilege of working with most of our awesome colleagues, clients and partners from day one. I get excited about new technology and helping our clients find ways of doing what they do even better. The Microsoft stack with Office 365, Azure and related services is a key enabler in my world of delivering the best possible digital workspace solution on the planet. Together with our customers and our partners we are driving innovation to take advantage of AI, ML, Cognitive Services, to enable our users to participate, know and achieve more.

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