Microsoft Loop : Notion :: Teams : Slack

Tom Warren, writing for The Verge:

Microsoft is now letting anyone preview Microsoft Loop, a collaborative hub offering a new way of working across Office apps and managing tasks and projects. Much like Notion, Microsoft Loop includes workspaces and pages where you can import and organize tasks, projects, and documents. But what sets the two apart is Loop’s shareable components that let you turn any page into a real-time block of content that can be pasted into Microsoft Teams, Outlook, Word on the web, and Whiteboard.

Loop components are constantly updated and editable for whoever they’re shared with. Imagine a table that you’re working on with colleagues; you can drop that as a Loop component into a Teams message or Outlook email, and any edits to the table will be reflected wherever it’s embedded or shared.

For some reason I’m having flashbacks to a college internship, when I had to read the spec for OpenDoc. It was like a phone book in size but less readable.

Microsoft Loop is designed with collaboration and co-creation in mind. The main interface looks a lot like Notion, a workspace app that is used by Adobe, Figma, Amazon, and many other businesses.

Is Loop a Notion rip-off, or simply in the same space? As ever with Microsoft, they are unafraid to copy. Teams doesn’t just do similar things as Slack — it looks like Slack. Likewise, Loop looks like Notion. I’m not a Notion user so I’m not super-familiar with it, but Loop feels very similar. Loop has the same “::” grippy indicator for dragging components on a page up and down to reorder them, and more tellingly, the same “just type /” slash key trigger for shortcuts. But Slack uses slash the same way and Microsoft copied Slack years ago with Teams.

Notion makes it easy to share a page as a public website (Hipstamatic’s relaunch press release that I linked to an hour ago is on Notion); Loop doesn’t seem to have that feature. Both Notion and Loop are only available on the web on the Mac, but both do work in Safari. [Update: Whoops, wrong, Notion does offer desktop apps for Mac and Windows from their website, but it’s an, err, notional “app” at best — really just an Electron wrapper around their web app. Still, though, we regret the error.] Microsoft’s ChatGPT-powered Bing chat not only doesn’t work in Safari, it requires the bleeding-edge “dev” builds of Edge. [Correction: Bing Chat does work in Safari, but you need to set the user agent string to Edge in Safari’s Develop menu.] Notion has mobile apps for iOS and Android, and Microsoft does too, albeit in beta. Notion’s AI assistant, curiously enough, is more advanced. (Microsoft’s Copilot is coming to Loop, but seemingly isn’t available there for me yet.) I asked Notion’s AI “What are the differences between Notion and Microsoft Loop?” and got a reasonable answer — impressive considering that Loop was only announced today.

If you create software that gains traction in work environments, it’s inevitable that Microsoft is going to follow.

Wednesday, 22 March 2023