Microsoft introduces a free version of Teams, going head-to-head with Slack

Microsoft introduces a free version of Teams, going head-to-head with Slack

In a clear attempt to one-up Slack, Microsoft's Teams is actually surprisingly robust.

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.

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

By comparison, Slack's free plan looks rather paltry. If you've got a relatively small group of employees, then, it sounds like you'll be able to get quite a bit done with the free version of Teams - in fact, you may never need to upgrade to the paid version as long as what's offered for free meets your requirements for a collaboration platform. It's nowhere close to Teams' unlimited searchable messages.

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"What we've learnt from Teams in the first 16 months is that, firstly, it's fantastic in terms of a straight off-the-bat free service or additional value inside Office 365", Heard said. Subscribers will also be able to use features like extra storage, scheduling and recording meetings, security compliance, and more. The habit-changing tips are powered by MyAnalytics, which has the capability to suggest that users take some time to themselves, or flag that someone is emailing a coworker after hours, in hopes of improving work/life balance, according to the release. Like the free Slack tier, there are limitations to the free Teams, but Microsoft has picked a very different set of restrictions than Slack's.

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

A speaker timeline, which uses facial detection to identify who is talking, so you can easily jump to a particular speaker in the event. There are also close captions to make sure the feature is accessible to all.

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. Slack has offered a free version since it first arrived on the scene, and looking at Slack's dominance today, it seems like it was a good move.

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