December 16, 2021

Microsoft Loop: everything you need to know about Notion's competitor

Clara

Clara

5 min reading

A look back at the big development in collaborative working: Microsoft Loop.

During the Ignite event, the giant Microsoft announced an important change. This one is a great evolution in collaborative work : Microsoft Loop. Loop is an evolution of theFluid application that facilitates collaborative and hybrid work. Its motto? "Think, plan and create together". The principle of the tool is simple: combine a task manager and instant messaging with the use of whiteboards.  

But what is Microsoft Loop after all? Why will it disrupt the market for collaboration software like Notion?

What is Microsoft Loop?

This post-Office world is something Microsoft has dreamed of for years. An Adeco Group survey shows that 73% of employees believe that the best model integrates both on-site and teleworking. The need to adapt to hybrid working and to offer collaboration solutions is obvious. In line with Microsoft's positioning in the collaborative working tools market, they have developed Loop.  

The aim of Loop is to enable teams to think, plan and create together, and everywhere.

Microsoft Loop was designed as a hybrid workplace. It is a powerful and flexible matrix based on bricks that can be moved around while remaining synchronised with other applications.  

It consists of three elements: Loop Components, Loop Pages and Loop Workspaces.  

Loop components

Loop components are modules that allow collaboration from multiple locations. Thanks to them, it is now possible to collaborate in chats, meetings, emails, etc. In other words, they are the parts of the Loop engine. They can be integrated and shared in several applications such as Teams, SharePoint, OneNote, Outlook, etc. and updated in real time. The components can be modified elsewhere than from the Loop page. There are several standard components and Microsoft offers developers the possibility to create their own modules.    

The first Loop components were presented, along with Microsoft Viva, at the Ignite conference in November 2021:

  • The voting module to facilitate decision-making and consensus. It is presented in the form of a table in which ideas are listed, their advantages, their disadvantages, and finally a voting column. The ideas are then put to the vote. You can vote for the idea of your choice and see how others voted.
  • The status tracking module for monitoring the progress of projects. In this table, you can find a list of tasks, their owner and due dates. Each collaborator can update their tasks, highlight sticking points and get help more easily.

The benefit of these components is a real gain in productivity for project teams. These components are integrated into the Loop workspaces.  

Loop workspace

Loop workspaces are shared spaces where all the important information for a given project is gathered. All the information is gathered in one place. They allow you to see what people are working on, the Loop components, to react and come up with new ideas, and also to monitor the objectives.  

These workspaces are divided into pages.

Loop pages

Loop pages are flexible frameworks for organising elements in a visual way. In effect, you can arrange the components as you wish on the page. These pages can include Loop components, but also links, files or other data from another application.  

That's what makes this tool so powerful: it allows you to insert components created outside of Loop!  

You can collaborate in real time with your teams. For example, a marketing project page could contain a " Marketing Ideas" component where the team can put ideas and react to them. On the same page, there could be a to-do list, a Mood Board, the sales dashboard...

All of these Loop elements will be available on Teams, Outlook and OneNote, and will be rolled out this month (December 2021).

Loop: new uses in Microsoft applications  

Loop in Chat Teams

One of the experiences Loop offers is within the Teams Chat. It is possible to add a Loop component to a chat, group chat or meeting chat. This allows you to create lists, tables, paragraphs with other members of a conversation. This makes note taking much more functional and collaborative. This feature is already available in Teams Public Preview and is scheduled for official release in mid-November 2021.

💡 To go further, discover 11 apps to improve collaborative work with Teams

Loop in meetings

You can use Loop components in meeting invitations to include the agenda and meeting notes. When setting up a meeting, Loop allows you to add an agenda and task list to help participants prepare for the meeting and be as productive as possible. You can also add related files and links to resources. Meeting notes can also be attached to the invitation which helps to structure and be more efficient in meetings.

As for the agenda, it can be written collaboratively, leaving it to the participants to complete.  

During the meeting, the Loop components become a working medium. You can check off completed agenda items in real time. The notes can also be opened and completed by the participants live. Finally, you can create follow-up tasks and synchronise them with your To-Do in OneNote. Once the meeting is over, you can access the meeting notes from Teams, OneNote or Outlook. Synchronisation is done automatically, keeping all participants and absentees informed about the outcome of the meeting.  

Loop in Outlook

This feature is very interesting: it brings collaboration right into the email! Thanks to Loop, you can paste Loop links into an email and use the component's functionality directly from there.

Loop on Microsoft Whiteboard

Users can collaborate on the Whiteboard and insert Loop components to collaborate directly within it. This integration is powerful: it allows to have on the same board digital drawings, lists, paragraphs... And to collaborate on all these elements.  

👍 Discover how to optimize your Teams meetings with Microsoft Whiteboard

Loop, a Notion clone

The collaboration tool most closely related to Loop is Notion. Indeed, Microsoft's newcomer was largely inspired by the latter's design. Notion is a collaborative work platform and productivity tool launched in 2013 by entrepreneur Ivan Zhao. With its sleek design and innovative features, the Notion application had revolutionised the way people work together.

With Loop, Microsoft explores a new graphic charter that can also be found on the new Windows 11 OS. Rounder and more colourful, this new design gives a young and dynamic image to the application, which positions it as a direct challenger to Notion.

Prior to Loop, Microsoft did not offer a productivity application where teams could collaborate on a canvas. With the exposure of its use, Notion has proven to be a perfect fit for a widespread business need. The launch of Loop can be seen as Microsoft's attempt to replicate this, by positioning itself as an alternative to Notion. This strategy had already been used by the company in 2016, when it launched Teams to compete with Slack.

Sure, the style of Microsoft Loop is very similar to Notion, but what about the functionality? Could Loop kill Notion?  

The structure of Loop with its components is similar to that of Notion. However, Loop goes further by linking components to other applications such as Teams, Onedrive, OneNote or Outlook. This is Microsoft's great strength: Loop enters this niche by interfacing with a very robust and widely marketed ecosystem.  

Opinions on whether Loop will take the place of the leader Notion differ. It is difficult to give a clear answer at the moment. For some, this first version of Loop does not compete with Notion. One of the arguments put forward is that Notion's databases are superior.  

On the other hand, the arguments in favour of Loop are of course the integration of the elements in the Microsoft environment. Indeed, the synchronisation of elements in all Microsoft applications makes the tool very powerful. Notion will never be able to compete on this major asset: the Microsoft environment.

📌 To go further, discover the 5 good reasons to base your intranet on the Microsoft environment

Curious to know if other such announcements were made at Ignite? Find a summary of the November 2021 announcements.

Things to remember



📌Loop makes it possible to think, plan and create together, and everywhere ;

📌 Loop consists of three elements: Loop Components, Loop Pages and Loop Workspaces;

📌 The main difference between Notion and Loop is that the elements of the latter integrate into the Microsoft environment.