With a free version of Teams, Microsoft takes the fight to Slack


Microsoft Corp. is taking the good fight to Slack Technologies Inc. with the launch of a free version of its Teams workplace collaboration service.

The new introductory tier, the first time Microsoft has offered a free version of Teams since launching the product in March 2017, not only competes head-to-head with Slack but some features actually exceed what its competition has on offer.

The free Microsoft Teams offers support for up to 300 users with unlimited chat messages and search; built-in audio and video calling for individuals, groups and full team meetups; and 10 gigabytes of team file storage plus additional 2 GB per person for personal storage.

By comparison, the free version of Slack only offers search for the last 10,000 messages and 5 GB of file storage with no per-person allowance. Although Slack does offer one-to-one audio calling, it doesn’t provide support for group calls and full team meetups.

At the next level, the free Microsoft Teams pulls way ahead of Slack with integrated, real-time content creation with Office Online apps, including built-in Word, Excel, PowerPoint and OneNote — not the least bit surprising given Office is Microsoft’s flagship office software suite. Teams free offers unlimited app integrations with 140-plus business apps to choose from, including Adobe, Evernote and Trello. By comparison, Slack only offers up to 10 apps and integrations.

Along with content creation with Office Online Apps, the free Microsoft Teams has one major selling point that Slack will never be able to match: full integration into the Microsoft 365 ecosystem, itself already a highly popular enterprise workplace suite of office productivity tools, complete with additional storage, enterprise security and compliance functionality.

Well before this launch and even before the general availability of the paid version of Microsoft Teams, one analyst predicted in January 2017 that Microsoft Teams would have more users within two years, but until now the biggest hurdle has been price. The $60-per-user-per-year price tag for Teams has presented a price barrier to small businesses, but with a free version offering support for up to 300 users, that barrier no longer exists.

Slack has been a popular team collaboration platform for a number of years, but its popularity has slanted toward tech companies and startups. As of May, Slack had 8 million users, 3 million of whom are paying users. But in a potential market in the hundreds of millions, it’s a minnow to Microsoft’s shark.

The free version of Microsoft Teams is available starting today in 40 different languages in all markets Microsoft offers online services in.

Image: Microsoft

Brittany LeMaro