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At its Ignite 2021 conference today, Microsoft announced Loop, a new app that combines a “flexible canvas” with components that sync across Microsoft 365 services to help teams communicate and work remotely together. Built on Microsoft’s Fluid Framework, Loop is “the next big breakthrough in Microsoft 365,” according to Microsoft 365 corporate VP Jared Spataro.
“We’re completely reimagining Office to go beyond the traditional confines of a document, spreadsheet, or presentation, spilling over to entirely new mediums. Just like Teams transformed collaboration and productivity,” Spataro said in a blog post.
Loop consists of three core elements: Loop components (previously Fluid components), Loop pages, and Loop workspaces.
Loop components are “units of productivity” that allow users to complete work and collaborate in the flow of work, either on a Loop page or in a chat, email, document, or online meeting. Components can be as simple as lists, tables, and notes — or as sophisticated as a customer sales opportunity from Dynamics 365, according to Microsoft — and they always stay in sync across Microsoft 365 apps.
As for Loop pages, they’re “flexible canvases” where users can organize their components and pull in elements like links, files, or data. Loop workspaces are shared platforms that allow users to see and group everything important to their project, ostensibly making it easier for users to catch up on what everyone’s working on — as well as react to ideas and track progress toward shared goals.
A growing ecosystem
Loop components are continually being added, Microsoft says, including a voting table and status tracker. The voting table is designed to help teams brainstorm, choose, and decide to drive decision-making, while the status tracker gathers information to maintain an up-to-date view of a project across a team. In platforms like Teams, Loop components — which can be copied and pasted throughout different Teams chats — can allow chat users to send a message with a table, action items, or lists that can be coauthored and edited by everyone in line, for example, or add notes to calendar invites collaborating on the agenda with invitees ahead of the meeting.
In the future, Microsoft says it plans to add Loop components that facilitate business workflows, starting with Dynamics 365 records, and allow app developers to build components by extending their existing message extensions apps and Microsoft Graph Connector integrations. Beyond this, agenda, notes, and task list components will be available soon as part of the new meeting notes experiences in Outlook, Teams, and OneNote.
The launch of Loop comes as IT and workplace decision-makers are prioritizing technology solutions that enhance employee experience and engagement despite ongoing budget constraints. While some studies find that remote work is boosting productivity, others show that productivity is decreasing as an increasing number of staffers rely on sometimes cumbersome remote collaboration tools.
Loop in some ways is Microsoft’s answer to Google Workspace Spaces, which provides dashboards for real-time project collaboration. First announced in July, Spaces integrates tools like Calendar, Drive, Docs, Sheets, Slides, Meet, and Tasks, providing various ways for users to engage in topic-based discussions.
Competition in the global enterprise collaboration market is expected to drive the segment’s value to $36.15 billion by 2026, up from $25.22 billion in 2019.