Microsoft Teams started off on a fruit farm, now launching in over 121 countries

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It’s hard to believe how far a small project can become a worldwide software program, but it’s a story that Microsoft isn’t stranger to. With Microsoft Teams becoming generally available today, the collaborative software team explained to The Verge in an exclusive interview that it’s nowhere near where it started.

In fact, Microsoft Teams was conceived as a close-knit model pitched in February 2015 to compete for business interest against Slack and Hipchat. Brian MacDonald, head of Microsoft Teams, wanted to go to offsite locations to learn more about what businesses would need for their tools. One of these, as you might have guessed, was a fruit farm in Hawaii. The other, a Las Vegas hotel room where the engineering team bunkered down.

The idea was to simulate a digital workspace that incorporated global offices and a need for remote tools. Apparently, their month at each location proved just what the coder ordered with a working prototype already built as of April 2015. According to Jigar Thakkar, engineer head of Microsoft Teams, using the early build daily helped them make it that much better.

“Every Friday we used to have these 60-second demos,” explains Jigar Thakkar, head of engineering for Microsoft Teams. “Every developer on the team would come and demo what they had built in that week to all the developers, program managers, and designers. Week after week we’d see the whole product coming together very quickly.”

When they weren’t using the prototype of Microsoft Teams, they also used competitor products to compare the two. The Teams focus on business integration in Office 365, however, makes it unique to its predecessors. It already has 150 third-party integrations and over 50,000 organizations have adopted Microsoft Teams. All before it even went generally available just earlier today.

Learn more about what’s coming to Microsoft Teams for Office 365 on its official launch event page.