Microsoft is introducing a free version of Microsoft Teams today, the company’s Slack competitor. Microsoft Teams originally launched back in November 2016 with no free or freemium tiers for businesses to upgrade from. While 200,000 businesses now use Microsoft Teams, a lack of a free version made it difficult for small businesses and freelancers to use Microsoft Teams as it was limited to an Office 365 subscription. That’s all changing today with the launch of a free version of Microsoft Teams, and it’s now even bigger competition to Slack.
The free version of Teams will include support for up to 300 people, with unlimited chat messages and search. Microsoft is including most of the Teams features you’d expect, with some limits to push people towards an Office 365 subscription. The free version includes built-in audio and video calling for groups, and even unlimited app integrations for adding apps like Trello to Microsoft Teams. Microsoft is even enabling guest access so anyone can join a free Microsoft Teams server. Microsoft is also limiting team file storage to 10GB, with 2GB of personal storage for each member.
Slack’s free version is limited to 10,000 searchable messages, 10 app integrations, 5GB of file storage, no guest accounts, and only 1:1 video chats. Comparatively, the free version of Microsoft Teams looks a lot less restrictions than Slack’s free equivalent, as long as you stick to 300 people or less.
Microsoft is keeping its key Microsoft Teams integration of full desktop versions of Office apps like Word and Excel limited to its paid Office 365 subscriptions. The free version of Microsoft Teams will include the web versions of those apps from Office Online.
Microsoft’s Office Online apps aren’t as powerful as the company’s desktop versions, but they’ve gradually improved to truly compete against Google’s G Suite competition. Improved real-time collaboration support has helped, and Microsoft is even rebuilding the web versions to make them run faster and updating them with a Fluent Design overhaul.
Microsoft Teams’ free version will be available today in 40 different languages, and if you hit any of the limits then you can upgrade to an Office 365 subscription which starts at $5 per user per month. Microsoft has also been tweaking its Teams software to include background blur for video calls, cloud recordings of meetings, and inline message translation for team members who speak different languages.
This new free version of Teams will really put even further pressure on Slack, which showed it was nervous of Microsoft with a full-page newspaper ad. Slack has benefited from reaching emerging startups, small businesses, and other businesses that don’t rely on Windows or Office. Microsoft’s new free tier of Teams could appeal to these smaller businesses and compete with Slack in this crucial part of the market.