Loop is Microsoft's new component based collaboration tool, allowing users to create bespoke solutions for teams and projects.
Loop is a component based collaboration tool, allowing users to create bespoke solutions for teams and projects. Tools like loop (and notion, airtable) have combined multiple, traditionally separate softwares - like kan-ban boards, gantt charts, wikis, to-do lists, and comment boards - into component pieces that can be used together or separately on blank canvases. This allows users to mix and match these traditional features in personalized and unique ways to better suit the needs of a particular project, team, or business. Users are able to link pages together, allowing seamless movement from one canvas or view to another. Loop can also help teams stay organized, allowing them to easily link files to projects so the necessary documents are always easy to find.
Loop is an evolution, not just reflective of the changing needs of businesses as they transition to remote models, but also an evolution of Microsoft products, both literally and figuratively. A few years back Microsoft released Fluid Framework, a tool that allowed users to collaborate with each other between applications. While Fluid Framework is now open source, it is clear that Loop is the successor, extrapolating on the capabilities of Fluid and encompassing new features.
Loop itself is not a completely new idea. Collaboration tools enabling teams to work together or track projects online have been around for years. However, Loop does enter a newer subsection of collaboration tools, and with Loop, Microsoft is the first major company to release a component based collaboration tool. Notion, likely the closest alternative to Loop, released their component based collaboration software all the way back in 2016, and gained a major following in 2018. Notably, Notion recently reached a $10 Billion valuation, signifying the market's interest in component based collaboration tools. Microsoft’s ace is its enormous catalog of software that will seamlessly integrate with Loop. While Microsoft has not shown anything truly novel or innovative with Loop, they really don’t need to. The value of linking a Loop kan-ban board seamlessly in a Teams chat, or inserting an excel table or word document in a Loop canvas is unparalleled. One unconfirmed ability that would set Loop apart from notion would be the ability to access the software offline, a feature often overlooked or undervalued in this area. Something that would have helped Notion when it was offline for a few hours earlier this year. Microsoft for years has had the reputation of a company that refused to innovate or let go of outdated and antiquated software, however Loop shows that Microsoft has its finger on the pulse of what teams need in this new era of remote work.
Notion: It’s fair to say that Loop has "taken" a significant amount of "creative direction" from Notion. A more harsh person might say blatantly ripped off the design. So Notion is obviously the closest tool to Loop. This component based collaboration tool allows users to mix, match, and create personalized tools and solutions for their unique projects and businesses. Notion is a great tool for teams, but isnt the most intuitive or easy to use. There is a steep learning curve if you want to extract the maximum value from the platform.
Asana / Jira / Monday.com: A "classic" project management tool used worldwide due to their security and ease of use. These platforms use the traditional features such as kan-bans, to-do lists and assignments, and comment boards and messaging to help teams complete projects efficiently. They are easily accessible and extremely intuitive, taking only a few minutes to learn.
Confluence / SharePoint / Basecamp: These "space" based tools help teams create a centralized location of information, files, and collaboration. While very similar to other collaborative tools, these tools create a separate space for projects based on the teams, client, or purpose. They utilize the same tools as other collaborative platforms but tend to have more emphasis on file sharing and organization, real-time document editing, and news feeds or project boards to keep up to date on the latest edits or changes to projects.
Smartsheets: This tool takes a somewhat different approach to collaboration, but ultimately ends up providing the same utility and capabilities as its competitors. At its core Smartsheets is a spreadsheet software similar to Microsoft Excel or Google Sheets. However Smartsheets incorporates collaborative features providing teams with a unique tool. Users overlay pre-built or custom made templates such as Gantt charts or calendars, to open up more advanced functionality. And because spreadsheets are such a powerful and flexible tool, teams are able to use Smartsheets for a variety of reasons ranging from document editing, to project tracking, to expense management.