What Microsoft first launched as the abstract “Fluid Framework” has landed as another spin on a “live” document that can be actively edited and collaborated upon. The new Microsoft Loop app appears to make “widgets” part of your daily workflow, traveling with you across all aspects of your Microsoft-powered productivity.
Microsoft Loop blurs the distinction between a shared document and a shared workspace, as both Microsoft and rival Google have tried to establish over the past two years. Microsoft describes Loop as “a new app that combines a powerful and flexible canvas with portable components that move freely and stay in sync across Microsoft 365 apps, enabling teams to think, plan, and create together.”
Essentially, a Loop document will look like a shared document, but Microsoft imagines they’ll be populated by drag-and-drop Loop “components,” or small blocks of code that can be added for a specific purpose. The model looks very much like Teams or Slack, where plug-ins can be added in to unlock all sorts of functionality and extra features. Components, according to Microsoft, are “atomic units of productivity” that allow users to complete work in whatever context the component appears in: chat, email, an online meeting, or more.
Microsoft describes these Loop components as simple as tables or lists or notes, or as sophisticated as a sales opportunity. The components will roll out across Microsoft 365 apps like Teams, OneNote, and Outlook in the coming months, Microsoft said at its Ignite 2021 conference on Tuesday.
While Loop components seem simple enough to understand, Microsoft has also announced Loop pages, which are “flexible canvases” where users can organize their components. Loop workspaces, meanwhile, will be areas where Loops users can “see and group everything important to their project,” Microsoft said. It’s unclear how both of those will differ from one another, or how they’ll differ from Teams or other collaboration apps.
Microsoft launched the Fluid Framework two years ago and announced that the company would open-source Fluid Framework last year.