Previous documentation suggested that Microsoft Teams was getting a free version, and it’s now available. With it, the app becomes a very serious competitor to Slack, which has been making waves in workplace communication.
Microsoft’s position as a tech giant gives it the ability to be generous, and it’s offering considerable perks free of charge. The main limitation is a restriction of 300 users per free organization, which should be enough for many.
However, the app offers unlimited searchable messages versus Slack’s maximum of 10,000. It also has 140+ free integrations versus Slack’s 10, and gives each user 2 GB of storage and each organization 10 GB of shared space.
Naturally, it ties in closely with Office 365, with the ability to use Word, Excel, PowerPoint and OneNote apps in Teams for free. It also leverages Microsoft’s Skype experience for 1:1 and group audio/video calls, channel meetings, and screen sharing.
Comparatively, Slack only offers one-to-one voice and video calls on its free tier and no screen sharing. There’s also a 5 GB total cap on storage.
Is Slack Dead?
The big question now is what Slack will do to respond to its newfound competition. Currently, it has the upper hand in one area: there’s no limit on the number of users in its free tier. However, it’s other restrictions make having that more than that impractical. It’s unlikely 300 users would be able to survive on 5 GB of storage, and the inability to group call could severely hamper productivity.
Teams also provides a higher level of security and compliance. The free version features region-based data residency and data encyrption at rest and in transit. This makes it a strong choice for any orginization.
On the surface, Teams’ free offering appears to Slack beat, but it’s unlikely Slack will dissapear any time soon. Users on non-Windows systems are less likely to care about Office integration and there’s something to be said for the minimal experience.
In my usage, Slack has proven less resource intensive, easier to use, and more simplistic. It does a few tasks very rather than trying to cram in a lot of features. However, those are all aspects Microsoft can improve with time, so it’ll be interesting to see how Slack Technologies responds.