Microsoft takes on Slack with free version of Teams

Enlarge  Microsoft Teams on different

This is an important step for Microsoft and its Teams platform as it takes on Slack which has captivated the startup world with its modern take on a communication platform. Slack has one, and it's an easy way to onboard customers in hopes they'll upgrade later. Free Teams supports group voice and video calling, too; Slack's free tier is restricted to 1:1 video calls. There's no 10,000 message limit-even free users can access and search all their chat history-and the data limits are substantially higher, at 10GB plus 2GB per person.

Integrated, real-time content creation with Office Online apps, including built-in Word, Excel, PowerPoint, and OneNote.

Ability to communicate and collaborate with anyone inside or outside your organization, backed by Microsoft's secure, global infrastructure. You can only search the last 10,000 messages, which could be insufficient after a few years or with a larger team. The free version also doesn't require a Microsoft email account to sign up; any email address works.

The free version supports up to 300 users per company and offers numerous same features as the version inside Office 365, such as video and audio calling for one-on-one meetings and bigger events, the ability to search messages and integrations with other Microsoft products as well as more than 140 third-party apps.

Of course, Microsoft is leaving some of the goodies for people who subscribe to Microsoft 365, beyond just going over 300 team members. Upgrading to the paid version also gives you more storage, enterprise security and compliance, and an unlimited number of users. Office 365 will use facial detection to automatically detect when particular people are talking, allowing you to jump straight to their portions of the event. Microsoft also showed off new live event capabilities for Office among other productivity features and new offerings for Azure and Power BI. There are also close captions to make sure the feature is accessible to all. The free version is available today, worldwide and in 40 languages. 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.

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