It may not be the “Year of the Linux Desktop” yet, but Microsoft has released its first Office App for Linux. Microsoft Team is now available in Public Preview for the Linux operating system. This is yet another move by Microsoft to further prove their long touted “Microsoft ❤️ Linux” message they’ve been promoting since Satya Nadella became CEO.

Microsoft Teams client for Linux

Microsoft announced that the Microsoft Teams client it the first Microsoft 365 app to be coming to Linux desktops, and will support all of Microsoft Teams’ core capabilities. With Teams as a hub for teamwork, it brings chat, video meetings, calling, and Office 365 document collaboration within a single, integrated experience.

With this release the Microsoft Teams client now supports Windows, macOS, iOS, Android, and Linux operating systems; in addition to the Web client!

Microsoft Teams is First Office App for Linux 1
Credit: Microsoft

The biggest competitor to Teams is Slack. Slack already has a Linux client, and this is likely the primary reason Microsoft released a Teams client for Linux. There has been some fierce competition between Microsoft Teams and Slack since the initial release of Teams. Just as other fierce competitions, you should expect that if one releases a feature or platform support, then the other will likely follow suit shortly after.

“2019 has been another incredible year in open source, and Linux continues to be at the heart of all the growth and innovation. I’m really excited about the availability of Microsoft Teams for Linux. With this announcement, Microsoft is bringing its hub for teamwork to Linux. I’m thrilled to see Microsoft’s recognition of how companies and educational institutions alike are using Linux to transform their work culture.”

Jim, Zemlin, Executive Director at The Linux Foundation

While Microsoft Teams on Linux may appear to be just copying Slack, it really is a nice addition. There are many people that do use Linux desktops, and being able to integrate them into the fold of Microsoft Teams users is just as important as any other subset of users.

If you’re interested in downloading and trying out the Public Preview of Microsoft Teams for Linux, then go here to download native Microsoft Teams Linux packages in .deb and .rpm format.

Microsoft Teams is First Office App for Linux 2
Credit: Microsoft

Office 365 on Linux?

The next question is: What Office app will be next to be released on Linux? Well, we don’t know yet, and Microsoft hasn’t been willing to state either. It would be amazing to get Linux support for the full Office suite, but then again you can always use Office 365 within the browser on Linux anyway.

Microsoft Teams is First Office App for Linux 3
unofficial-webapp-office by Hayden Barnes (haydenb)

If you are interested in doing some integration of Office 365 and Linux, then you should certainly check out the sirredbeard/unofficial-webapp-office open source project hosted on GitHub. While this is a community attempt (not supported or endorsed by Microsoft) at integrating Office 365 apps with Linux, it’s definitely an interesting option to have available. The way the project works is it created link to the Office 365 web apps that will embed them within a minimalist web browser.

If you have an Ubuntu Desktop that you’d like to try out the “sirredbeard/unofficial-webapp-office” project on, then go check out the Snapcraft unofficial-webapp-office installation page, or event check out the GitHub project too.

Wrap Up

It’s an interesting time we’re in that Microsoft is embracing Linux; not just in cloud hosting with Microsoft Azure, but also in the Linux Desktop space. Over the years Linux keeps growing, with Microsoft Subsystem for Linux (WSL) being the fastest growing Linux distributions (as odd as that does sound), and now with Microsoft application support coming to Linux Desktops directly as well.

Hopefully Microsoft Teams support wont be the last Office app to come to Linux. With it being announced as “the first Microsoft 365 app that is coming to Linux desktops”; we only assume that more Office apps will be following too!

Microsoft MVP

Chris Pietschmann is a Microsoft MVP, HashiCorp Ambassador, and Microsoft Certified Trainer (MCT) with 20+ years of experience designing and building Cloud & Enterprise systems. He has worked with companies of all sizes from startups to large enterprises. He has a passion for technology and sharing what he learns with others to help enable them to learn faster and be more productive.
HashiCorp Ambassador Microsoft Certified Trainer (MCT) Microsoft Certified: Azure Solutions Architect