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Microsoft wants to spread the use of its Slack rival Teams, so it is introducing tools for specialized groups like retail and healthcare workers.

Full Coverage: News and analysis from Microsoft's Ignite 2018 event in Orlando

As Microsoft began its annual IT and developer conference Ignite this week, the company shared an update on Teams and unveiled some new additions to its so-called “hub for teamwork.” Microsoft now has 329,000 organizations using the tool, which is up from 200,000 earlier this year.

Teams, which debuted publicly in March 2017, is available in 44 languages. Microsoft said it has 54 Teams customers with more than 10,000 users.

Microsoft officially added Slack to its list of competitors in an annual filing earlier this year. As of May, Slack boasted more than 500,000 organizations on its platform and 8 million daily active users, 3 million of which are paid.

Looking to beef up its user base, Microsoft is adding tools for specific groups of potential customers. For “first-line” workers, people who don’t sit at desks all day and have direct interactions with either customers or equipment, Microsoft has added the ability to manage schedules. These capabilities, debuting in October, include creation and sharing of schedules, shift swapping, time off requests, and access to important announcements.

Teams is also jumping into highly regulated industries such as healthcare. Microsoft said a new patient care coordination tool in private preview that integrates with electronic health records systems is more secure than typical chat functions, making sure that doctors and nurses remain HIPAA compliant.

Microsoft is also adding deeper integration with other programs such as Yammer and SharePoint. Several previously announced AI-powered meeting tools, such as the ability to blur out the background in video chats and intelligent recording that allows users to easily search transcripts, are now available.

These new tools are the latest signs of Microsoft’s deep investment in Teams. In July, Microsoft revealed a free version of Teams to expand it beyond the Office 365 ecosystem.

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