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Microsoft Teams. (Microsoft Photo)

Microsoft Teams is now used by more than 500,000 organizations, two years after the tool launched and kicked off a collaboration software arms race with rival Slack.

Microsoft has steadily integrated Teams with its many productivity offerings and added new features to bring in different groups of workers, from office employees to healthcare and service workers. Teams launched in March 2017 with 50,000 organizations using it, and that number has increased rapidly to 200,000 a year ago and 329,000 last fall.

Today, as Teams turns 2 years old, Microsoft unveiled a few new features, mostly focused on virtual meetings. Live captioning and subtitles, customizable backgrounds, support for Whiteboard and the ability to quickly go live to a couple or tens of thousands of people all add to Teams’ meeting capabilities. Microsoft also debuted new features to improve security within Teams, including the ability to set up secure private channels, information barriers and to make sure sensitive data is not unintentionally shared or leaked.

Some of these features are available now, while others are available in preview or coming soon.

Microsoft doesn’t give out the number of individual users on Teams, making comparisons with other services challenging. Slack said in January it had more than 10 million daily active users, and more than 85,000 organizations using its paid version.

Slack, which is expected to go public later this year, immediately ratcheted up the rivalry with Microsoft when it took out a newspaper ad congratulating the tech giant on the Teams launch and warning that “all this is harder than it looks.” Microsoft recognizes the rivalry as well, as last summer it officially added Slack to its list of competitors in its annual 10-K report.

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