Monday, 19 November, 2018

Microsoft takes the fight to Slack with a free version of Teams

Under the hood of Microsoft’s live event feature Under the hood of Microsoft’s live event feature
Sherri Watson | 13 July, 2018, 20:02

In an effort to make Teams more accessible to all professionals, Microsoft is releasing a free version on Thursday, which is available worldwide in 40 languages.

Beginning today, July 12, Microsoft is offering a free, preview version of its Teams group-chat platform, providing Redmond with an entry-level tier that can compete with the free version long offered by its rival Slack. First, you only get to search the most recent 10 thousand messages - which, by the way, is actually one of the most annoying and limiting parts of Slack's free product.

The number of third-party app integrations allowed by Microsoft is much more that the number allowed by Slack in its free version.

While the free version of Teams will not offer the same functionality as the Office 365 version, it will include some features not offered in the free versions of Slack that could lure prospective customers, including unlimited search and unlimited app integrations.

Microsoft introduced Teams in March a year ago, making it available as part of Office 365 to new and existing customers, in response to popular collaboration tools from the likes of Slack, Atlassian and Facebook.

Built-in audio and video calling for individuals, groups, and full team meetups.

Ever since its introduction, Microsoft's Teams-a collaboration tool for chatting, sharing documents, video, and voice calling-has had one major competitor: Slack.

Ability to communicate and collaborate with anyone inside or outside your organization, backed by Microsoft's secure, global infrastructure.

The free version of Microsoft Teams is available for anyone to download and try starting today.

By comparison, the free version of Slack is limited to 10 app integrations, 5GB of file storage and doesn't permit guest access. Granted, there's always the chance Slack could improve its free offering to counter Microsoft, but we've heard of no such plans yet.

Microsoft is also promoting some new features for all Teams users, both paid and unpaid.

Also new is Whiteboard, Microsoft's digital app that replicates a... well... whiteboard.

"Teams in larger organizations should work with IT to use their enterprise-licensed version rather than signing up to the free version or risk creating some administration challenges", Cannell said.