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Microsoft has launched Loop: a new collaboration tool built on Fluid Framework

Microsoft's collaboration strategy over the past few years has centered around teams. But there's more than one way to collaborate, and this week, another Microsoft collaboration app was one of them.
At its Ignite IT Pro conference this week, Microsoft rebranded many, but not all, of its fluid technologies as "Loop" and unveiled a new stand-alone productivity app called Microsoft Loop. Loop builds on and extends Microsoft's Fluid Framework, which the company launched in 2019 to provide rapid collaborative authoring and composite documents, including elements of near-real-time synchronization.
The Loop application looks and works much like the Concept project management/collaboration tool, in that it provides a canvas with portable components that can be synchronized across applications when users create as a team. But unlike a concept app, Loop can be used either as a standalone app/canvas or as an embeddable component in other apps; A Microsoft spokesperson told me when I asked about the similarities. These Loop components will be built into other Microsoft applications such as Outlook, Teams, OneNote, and/or Whiteboard.

As Loop components roll out starting in November 2021, they will be built into existing Office applications under Microsoft 365 commercial licenses, a company spokesperson said. Over time, the Loop component will appear in Teams, OneDrive, Office.com, and Office mobile apps. Microsoft isn't ready to talk about licensing/pricing for the standalone Loop app, but the spokesperson added that there will be more sharing when it launches in 2022.
Loop components are renamed and updated Fluid components -- tables, notes, tasks, and even customer sales records in Dynamics 365 -- that can be embedded in chats, emails, meetings, documents, or pages. The information stored in the Loop component is automatically and quickly synchronized, so users can always access the latest component no matter where it is located. In Microsoft parlances, circular pages are "flexible canvases" where users can organize project components such as files, links, and data. Circular workspaces are shared Spaces where teams can track all aspects of a project and where individuals can collaborate asynchronously or synchronously.
At this week's Ignite conference, Microsoft added two additional Loop components. One is the team's voting sheet; The other is the status tracker, which gathers team information, tracks the progress of the project, and provides an update on the status of the project. The two new components will be available in the Teams chat for Microsoft 365 users starting this month, officials said.
Previously announced fluid Framework components, including agendas, notes, and task lists, will be available soon. They will be renamed Loop components as part of Outlook, Teams, and OneNote's upcoming meeting notes options, officials said. The idea is that by adding meeting notes to calendar invitations in Outlook or Teams, users will be able to start collaborating with other participants before and after a meeting.
Earlier this year, Microsoft officials demonstrated how Fluid could complement Microsoft whiteboards and enrich the collaboration process. At the time, Microsoft had not yet announced the Loop brand, but the vision remains the same and recently updated Microsoft Whiteboard applications provide a more robust hosting environment for Loop components.
When I was asked this week about the relationship between Whiteboard and Loop, a Microsoft spokesperson offered this context:
"Whiteboards are a great tool for collaborating in a deeply visual and immersive way. It is also one of many M365 application experiences that will host the Loop component. For example, in your Loop application, you can create a new whiteboard with one click, allowing you to launch collaborative brainstorming sessions within the Loop page. Because whiteboards can be used as Loop components, you can see the same whiteboard in real-time and synchronously in Teams, Outlook, or anywhere else that supports Loop components. This allows your team to think and create together, no matter what app they're using right now."
According to Microsoft, third-party developers will be able to build their Loop components by "extending their existing message extension application and Graph Connector integration with minimal investment."Microsoft plans to talk more about how the technology works at its Build developer conference next year.

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