Loop app from Microsoft keeps projects in sync across Microsoft 365

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At its Ignite 2021 conference today, Microsoft announced Loop, a new app that combines a “flexible panel” with components that sync across Microsoft 365 services to help teams communicate and work together remotely. Based on Microsoft’s Fluid Framework, Loop is “the next big breakthrough in Microsoft 365,” according to Microsoft 365 Vice President Jared Spataro.

“We’re completely reimagining Office to go beyond the traditional boundaries of document, spreadsheet or presentation, and expand into entirely new media,” Spataro said in a blog post, just like Teams is about collaboration and productivity.

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A loop is made up of three basic components: loop components (formerly Fluid Components), iterating pages, and iterating workspaces.

Loop components are “productivity modules” that allow users to complete work and collaborate in a work flow, 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 complex as a Dynamics 365 customer opportunity, according to Microsoft — and always stay in sync across Microsoft 365 apps.

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Under the hood, the components of the loop are a JavaScript library and a set of services that that library interacts with in order to synchronize objects. For example, in a web application, a table would be represented in a document as a JavaScript object. The web application calls a service to synchronize state changes, which flow to all other participants.

As for Loop pages, they are “flexible canvases” where users can organize their components and drag items like links, files, or data. Loop workspaces are cross-platforms that allow users to see and aggregate everything important to their project, making it easier for users to, ostensibly, keep track of what everyone is working on—as well as engage with ideas and track progress toward shared goals.

A growing ecosystem

Microsoft says that loop components are being added constantly, including the voting schedule and status tracker. The voting schedule is designed to help teams brainstorm, select, and decide to drive decision-making, while a status tracker collects information to maintain an up-to-date view of the project across the team. On platforms like Teams, loop components – which can be copied and pasted across different Teams conversations – can allow chat users to send a message with a schedule, work items, or lists that can be authored and edited by everyone in the queue, for example, or add notes to Calendar calls for agenda collaboration with invitees prior to the meeting.

In the future, Microsoft says it plans to add Loop components that facilitate business workflows, starting with Dynamics 365 logs, and allow app developers to create components by extending existing messaging extension apps and Microsoft Graph Connector integration. Moreover, the agenda, notes, and to-do list components will be available soon as part of the new meeting notes experiences in Outlook, Teams, and OneNote.

competition

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 have found that remote work boosts productivity, others show that productivity increases decrease An increasing number of employees rely on sometimes cumbersome remote collaboration tools.

Loop is in some ways 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 different ways for users to engage in topic-based discussions.

Competition in the global corporate collaboration market is expected to drive the sector’s value to $36.15 billion by 2026, compared to $25.22 billion in 2019.

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