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Microsoft has been rolling out their platform called Loop throughout the year. It’s a collaboration platform with “workspaces” where you can comment and react to your collaborators’ posts and designs, and the “components” that you make will update no matter what app you view them in.

It may seem strange since 365 already has SharePoint and Teams and OneDrive that offer similar functionality, albeit with slightly different use cases. Maybe Microsoft is becoming more like Google, who routinely make multiple apps or services that compete with each other until, one day, they simply pull the plug on one of them. In today’s post, we’ll revisit the core elements of collaborating in your organization with Microsoft 365.

Teams and OneDrive and SharePoint

Together, these three apps can take care of virtually all of the collaboration needs that you have in your organization. As we’ve pointed out here, using Teams and SharePoint together is a no-brainer. If you’re already using Teams and SharePoint, creating a Teams channel automatically creates a SharePoint site that’s accessible to the members of that channel. The integration between OneDrive and SharePoint is also already there: in OneDrive, you’ll find your personal files that are available to your account, and you’ll find Shared libraries that represent each of your SharePoint sites.

Each of these three apps are both mobile and desktop, so they provide unified experiences that bring your organization together and help you collaborate. When you edit a document or spreadsheet, for instance, you can see the edits happening in real time and identify who is making those edits. Of course, you don’t have to worry whether or not those edits are being made by the right people, since when you create the files on SharePoint or in the context of a Teams channel, the permissions for the files should be set up already. You can change the permissions to make some users viewers instead of editors, or you can share the files externally (if you’re using SharePoint in the cloud).

Microsoft 365

Teams vs. OneDrive vs. SharePoint

We can think of them as three different ways of using your organization’s cloud storage: Teams is for communicating, but also organizing and creating channels to make SharePoint sites; SharePoint is the organization’s data as a whole, organized into sites and libraries of files; OneDrive is the app that you use to browse those files, as well as your personal store of files. These differences may seem small, but they’re important for understanding why each of the apps is separate.

Teams is the communications component that also helps define who has access to what. By setting up a channel for your collaboration, you have a clear way to communicate with the channel members, and a dedicated space in SharePoint for the files that the collaboration results in. This could be as simple as sharing data to collaborate on with co-workers, or collaboration on a video project.

OneDrive can be looked at like a personal cloud storage folder. Use it to backup your work documents and things that you personally need access to. If those documents become something that you collaborate on, you can simply set up sharing for a folder in your OneDrive. That means that it does some of the sharing that SharePoint does. Additionally, OneDrive gives you 5 GB of storage for free, which you could use with your personal plan right now.

SharePoint is more like a document and file management system for your whole organization. Because it’s geared toward collaboration, it keeps things organized and maintains the permissions set by your administrators for granting access to the right users. This can be a very important part of your organization’s data security plan, but does get complex. Crown Computers CEO Sean Goss adds that the SharePoint app is the best web app to access shared documents in Microsoft 365.

Getting in the Loop

So where does the new offering, Loop, fit into this well-established collaboration platform? The main innovation of Loop is that its “components” can pop up in any other part of Microsoft 365 with current information. If you have a to-do list, for instance, it will stay current no matter how your collaborators view the component—in Outlook or Teams Chat, etc. That means that it could be an interesting tool for checking on projects as they are happening, or keeping people up-to-date on fast moving data.

While SharePoint, Teams, and OneDrive have similar ways of tying all of your organization’s data together and creating channels of collaborators, Loop probably won’t outright replace something like SharePoint. It’s more likely that Loop will be something that has its specific strengths for specific kinds of collaboration and another app that you go to

-Written by Derek Jeppsen on Behalf of Sean Goss and Crown Computers Team