Microsoft has unveiled a new chat-based program for work colleagues to instantly communicate with each other and collectively edit important documents.

Called Microsoft Teams, the program is being built into the firm’s Office 365 software – which enables users to access software such as Word, PowerPoint and Excel anywhere via the cloud – and enable colleagues to take part in group conversations about various projects.

Microsoft Teams
(Microsoft)

Users will also be able to share emojis, GIFs and stickers within their conversations, as well as begin voice and video calls for meetings.

The software will be a direct competitor to Slack, the chat-based software aimed at groups of workers that launched in 2013.

Microsoft Teams
(Microsoft)

Ahead of Microsoft’s announcement, the firm placed a full back-page advert in Wednesday’s New York Times in which Slack said it was “genuinely excited to have some competition”.

Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella said Teams was aimed at improving the way people communicate when working.

Satya Nadella
(Richard Drew/AP)

“At Microsoft we aim to empower every person and organisation with the technology to be more productive as individuals and in groups,” he said.

“Office 365 is the broadest toolkit and platform for creation, communication and collaboration. Microsoft Teams adds a new experience to Office 365 as the chat-based workspace designed to empower the art of teams.”

Microsoft revealed last week that Office 365 now has 85 million monthly active users.