Slack turned the best bits of instant messaging into an easy-to-work format. The platform has emojis, numerous bots, games, plugins, and customizations, but retains the overall feeling of a serious tool for serious work.
But what is that? Enter a new challenger.? That's right:Microsoft Teams is upping the ante with the introduction of a new free tier for Teams collaboration software in the workplace.
The new free tier is a direct attack on Slack. But will it win over users? Which of these is right for you? Read on to find out.
Before the introduction of the free tier, Microsoft Teams was a tool only available to Office 365 subscribers. And even then, using it was an additional feature that came at an additional cost.
The payment structure and focus on existing Office customers limited the appeal of the Teams platform, but it is a valuable productivity tool for businesses with an existing Office 365 subscription. 5 Office 365 Business Tools to increase your productivity. 5 Office 365 Business Tools to increase your productivity. Office 365 comes with many different tools, but here are a few that can help your team be more productive and collaborative. Read more.
The free Microsoft Teams subscription certainly offers a lot. Especially compared to the free version of Slack.
One of the best features of Slack is its ease of use. Almost anyone can jump into Slack and chat right away, albeit using a suitable account. Is it that easy to use Microsoft Teams??
The user interface of Microsoft Teams adapts to the design of the instant messaging platform.
A column on the left shows your Teams and their associated channels, while a column on the right side shows Team members and their online status.
The center of the app houses the Conversations, Files, Meeting Notes, and other customizable tabs.
There is another menu column on the far left of the app with options for quick access chats, your recent activity, direct access to shared files, as well as additional apps and integrations.
Digging deeper into the free version of Microsoft Teams reveals that despite the unintuitive menu structures, there is a wealth of functionality to be found.
My two test volunteers and I quickly set up a three-way video meeting (powered by Skype), noting how helpful it was to have built-in meeting notes and file sharing as we discussed our important testing business.
The video meeting also has built-in screen sharing, allowing you to see what your colleague is demonstrating. For example, they can run a presentation from their screen without interruption. Screenshot How to cast your screen:Wired and wireless solutions to share your screen How to cast your screen:Wired and wireless solutions to share your screen There are many situations where you may want to mirror your smartphone or PC screen to the giant TV in your room. There are several ways to do this, both wired and wireless. Read More
Screen sharing and overlays work without any fuss, and it was perfect to add a new member to the video chat. There are also blurred background videos, as well as cloud recordings to share with other team members.
The range of integrations and apps available for Microsoft Teams is pretty impressive, especially when compared to the limitations of the free version of Slack, such as the total number of Slack integrations per free workspace 25 Weird and Wonderful Slack Integrations that You Need to Try 25 Weird and Wonderful Slack Integrations You Need to Try After many sleepless nights scouring the depths of the internet, and drinking one too many Red Bulls, I've managed to come up with a list of 25 (out of 45) Slack integrations you should… Read More .
You can see how useful a free Microsoft Teams subscription could be for small businesses and startups. An interesting feature is Online message translation for team members using a foreign language in your application.
Another nifty feature is direct control over the content you can include in your team's conversation. In our work Slack channels, we try to keep dank memes to a minimum, and the same goes for GIFs and other similar fun. While these things are fun, they can quickly escalate into battles and combat, taking real work-based conversations away from the eyes that need to see it.
Microsoft Teams Settings has a “Fun Stuff " option. What's fun? Well, emojis, memes, GIFs, and stickers, of course. The “Fun Stuff” setting allows the Team owner to disable uploads for custom memes (instead of non-custom memes), emojis, stickers, and GIFs. Hopefully you won't have to go that far, but the option is there nonetheless.
Well, not quite. There were a couple of problems along the way.
Registration and login process is a hassle.. Microsoft makes accessing Teams a difficult enough procedure that two other friends invited to try out Teams with me dropped out. Your pre-existing Microsoft accounts couldn't use any of the Get team link Links sent from within the Teams app to gain access. Thinking the problem might be related to their organization email accounts (accounts created by their workplace), they switched to personal accounts, but still had the same problem.
Team creation remains inconsistent. Similarly, my attempts to create a MakeUseOf team to test them repeatedly failed when using my work email account as my Microsoft user ID. Advantages and disadvantages of using a Microsoft account with Windows Advantages and disadvantages of using a Microsoft account with Windows A single Microsoft account allows you to sign in to a wide range of Microsoft services and applications. We show you the pros and cons of using a Microsoft account with Windows. Read More However, after switching to my personal Microsoft account, I was able to create an alternate test computer for some friends.
After downloading and installing the Teams desktop app, I noticed that my first few attempts to create a MakeUseOf test team had worked, but I wasn't informed. My testers could connect to the MakeUseOf Test Team, but not to my private Team (again using the “Get link to team” function).
In short, it was a hairdressing process for someone with no experience on the platform..
Microsoft Teams has Microsoft's sticky fingers all over it:great ideas, powerful tools, irritating implementation. But when you consider the differences between Slack's free offers and Teams, there's a lot to weigh.
Teams offers a broad vision of what the free version of Slack would love to be. Backed by those unfathomably deep Redmond pockets, Teams can offer over 140 integrations and apps, and 2GB of free storage for each user. It's a move that significantly ups the ante, and is likely outside the scope of what Slack can offer its free users.
Can Microsoft Teams take over Slack? I think Slack has a thing or two to worry about with Flock vs. Slack:Which Team Communication Tool Is Best For You? flock vs. Slack:Which Team Communication Tool Is Best For You? Flock is a direct competitor of Slack that pretends to be the same, but more productive and without gimmicks. Read More