Microsoft launches Loop, its Notion competitor, in public preview

Microsoft Loop, a Notion-like hub for managing tasks and projects that sync across Microsoft 365 apps and services, launched today in public preview.

Loop is available to users with a Microsoft account or an Azure Active Directory account. A companion app for iOS and Android should be coming soon; Microsoft did not provide a specific timeline.

Unveiled at Ignite 2021, Loop is in some ways Microsoft’s answer to Google Workspace Spaces, which provides dashboards for real-time, digitally-focused project collaboration. As with most team productivity platforms, Loop has tools for tracking project progress and two-way syncing with services like Trello.

So what’s unique about it? Well, Loop consists of three main elements – Loop Components, Loop Pages, and Loop Workspaces – which together can be used to paste blocks of real-time content into applications such as Outlook, Microsoft Teams, and Word. . (My colleague Frédéric Lardinois once compared the experience to the ill-fated Google Wave.) Microsoft says it’s designed to address the shortcomings of working in virtual teams — shortcomings that have become increasingly apparent during the pandemic. , when Loop was developed.

Microsoft Loop

Picture credits: Microsoft

Loop components are basically JavaScript widgets that allow users to collaborate during workflow, such as in a chat, email, document, or online meeting. Components can be as simple as lists, tables, and notes or as complex as a Dynamics 365 customer deal, and they always stay in sync across Microsoft 365 apps.

Thanks to synchronization capabilities, changes made to Loop components (e.g. tables) will be reflected wherever they are embedded or shared. In the future, Microsoft says it plans to add Loop components that facilitate enterprise workflows, starting with Dynamics 365 records, and allow developers to create completely custom Loop components.

As for Loop pages, they are flexible canvases where users can organize their Loop components and extract items such as links, files or data. (Loop provides a number of page templates for quick setup.) Loop workspaces have a broader reach, representing shared platforms where users can see and consolidate everything important to their projects.

Cleverly, Loop can find and recommend relevant documents and colleagues when creating a workspace. Up to 50 people can edit a workspace at a time, reacting to changes with emojis and comments, but Microsoft recommends teams of two to 12 people so the interface isn’t too claustrophobic.

Microsoft Loop

Picture credits: Microsoft

Also of note, Microsoft is building its new Microsoft 365 Copilot system in Loop. In private testing at the moment, the AI-powered co-pilot will provide suggestions for creating a brainstorm or plan and allow one or more users to edit the suggestions and then share them in apps like Outlook and Teams.

It’s an impressive array of features, but can Loop compete with Notion? That remains to be seen. As The Verge’s coverage of Loop notes, Notion hasn’t been resting on its laurels, recently launching an AI-powered system that analyzes meeting notes, creates summaries, presents important information, and even rewrites and generates text.

It’s the start of Loop, but Microsoft – while benefiting from Microsoft 365’s massive built-in user base – has its work cut out for it.


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