Microsoft launches a project management app called Planner


Microsoft wants to help businesses and small teams collaborate and track work with a new app called Planner. Released today for free as part of the Office 365 suite, Planner is a project management service similar to products like Asana and Trello. Microsoft isn't doing anything particularly groundbreaking here. It uses the established concept of a digital whiteboard plastered with note cards, which you can use to track projects, communicate progress, and attach files. It also integrates with other Microsoft products like OneNote and Outlook.

Planner does, however, have the benefit of appealing to customers who may not be familiar or comfortable with apps from startups they've never heard of. In fact, Microsoft says it's convinced the local government of Cascais, Portugal to move its entire workflow over to Planner. It's likely the company can appeal to similar and more traditional customers who are familiar with Office products and tend to shy away from software made by and for Silicon Valley.

While it may not sound super exciting, project management apps are integral to any business that collaborates online. Pretty much every workplace operation these days, from local governments to mammoth corporations, relies on these types of tools to get work done. Many teams still manage projects using Excel spreadsheets. So Microsoft is better positioned than most to get those groups using its software over products from even well-established competitors.

Planner does appear to deviate from Microsoft's seasoned strategy of acquiring its way into popular new mobile markets. The company no longer dominates workplace productivity as more and more free software, from Google and others, has arrived on the scene. So Microsoft has scooped up a number of promising app makers over the last few years to reclaim that dominance, including email app Acompli, calendar app Sunrise, and to-do list app Wunderlist. This time around, instead of buying company like Trello, Microsoft built its own version.


Wish this grows to compete with that abomination called Jira!

There’s nothing wrong with Jira. Setup a workflow then have the discipline to follow that workflow.

I usually find people who complain about Jira are also the same kind that complain about not being able to grok other people’s code and always wanting to rewrite a whole module instead of being able to add the functionality.

Coincidence? I think not.

Maybe it is you? Jira is fine…

JIRA works great, it’s extremely flexible, extensible and integrates with tons of other products. Perhaps you have not taken the time to learn how to use JIRA as it’s designed.

I’m sorry, but you can’t say that something is flexible and then accuse someone of not using it the way it’s designed.

JIRA works very well if you use all the tools and the rest of the Atlassian suite in a fairly Agile way, but start going off piste and you’ll find it lacking. For instance, they don’t have subcomponents because apparently that makes the UI too complex.

Also it’s sluggish, bloated and resource heavy, just like any other piece of enterprise software.

Based on what I have read and seen, Planner seems to be identical to Trello. They even went as far as to making the ‘board’ icon look like Trello’s logo!

Nevertheless copying Trello isn’t a bad thing, as Trello is great as so is competition. The only real limitation (IMO) preventing Trello being a major project management tool, is with regards to looking at a full overview of a project (gantt chart, etc). Even when coupled with the likes of Elgantt the crippling limitations are still apparent – using labels, maximum of 25 cards, etc.

Hopefully, this issue wasn’t copied as well! Although, I’m sure Microsoft will be quick to sell your company Microsoft Project, if Planner didn’t meet your needs.

I dare say it’s intentional. Trello is designed to do one thing competently, which is to provide a Kanban-style workflow.

Looks pretty good; nice and clean design. It feels a bit light on the features, but I’m sure they’ll add more and more to it over time. We used to use Trello, but found it light on anything more than the boards themselves.

We ended up going with It’s simple, clean, but robust enough for us. Everything else seemed loaded with features we’d never use.

Great, now get it to directly integrate and sync timelines and tasks with Project.

So… Since this is free… will it open MS Project .mpp documents? That’d instantly save a ton of time in having to convert files to Excel, which would be a project managers dream… Since Project itself is expennnnnnnsive for a license. Greater transparency too.

Office 365 isn’t free?

It’s free for anyone with Office, which virtually every enterprise on the planet has… Project is not. It carries a hefty licensing fee on a per-install basis.

So is this an official video from Microsoft? Does anyone see a problem with them using an iPhone for the mock up and not a Windows Phone.

No because windows phone is dead. I’m not a hater of WP, just stating fact.

Looks to me like they used the iPhone in the video to illustrate the point that the app is cross-platform

Problem? no.
It is disappointing as someone who actually enjoyed his time with windows phone 7, and 8.
It does provide some justification for me jumping back to an iPhone last year though.

been a WP user since the first version. This month I replaced the Lumia 930 for the iPhone 6s. That’s when I realize the only problem with Wp is the lack of good apps. The OS itself is a lot better and flexible than iOS. Sad there was no user adoption. Too many mistakes by Microsoft. =\

Same with Android. I just replaced my old Lumia 920 for the Redmi 3 and I just wanna go back.

Yup, 1020 launch customer here. I loved everything about my phone when I bought it. Its amazing camera, its great design, and its fun and fresh operating system designed with love and care.

About a year later, Microsoft started to make heartbreaking choice after heartbreaking choice until I could no longer justify my purchase. And I kept thinking the apps would come because it’s Microsoft dammit and look how much money they dumped into the Xbox to make it work. Surely they can pay off a few major companies to develop apps for them, right? Nope, no rational organizations want to waste their time with WP when there’s lots of users on iOS and Android.

I feel like Google’s strategy of withholding their services on WP was also really effective in decimating it as a platform, and that kind of makes me angry at Google, but what can you do?

I still love the unique experience of using a WP device and I know I’ll never forget it. There are so many things I’ll miss, but it’s definitely time to move on. From here things are only going to get more depressing.

I don’t know what’s going on. W10 apps are coming, more and more… yes for the big W10…but that also means the same apps (99% of the time) come for W10M…

No, hardly anyone uses WP. Showing the app on an iPhone relates to substantially more customers. I think MS is slowly easing away from WP, what with the lack of flagships and the massive write off last year. There are MS apps available for iOS and Android but not WP, which was frustrating for me since I had a 1020 up until earlier this year.

I second donniellis on the lack of apps. The OS is actually nice, and there are WP features I wish were on my S6, but that app market is killing them. It’s too bad they couldn’t get developers on board.

Hopefully they add TFS Work Items to the integration list, besides just Outlook and OneNote.

The company no longer dominates workplace productivity


For about twenty years, Office had 100% of the market. Microsoft are still #1 by a long way, but there are viable alternatives out there now.

That was a monopoly. MS still dominates workplace productivity…

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