Redmond matches main rival Slack by finally offering a free version aimed at smaller businesses and freelancers
Microsoft continues to seek ways to bring the fight to workplace communication app Slack, and has announced that a version of its Teams chat app will now be offered free of charge.
Like Slack, the Microsoft Teams tool aims to help workers chat and share information with their enterprise colleagues, and has been tightly integrated with the familiar Office applications.
But now with the free version, Microsoft is hoping to tempt smaller businesses and freelancers into using its tool.
The chat-based workspace for Office 365 is now said to be generally available in 181 markets and in 19 languages, and is thought to be used by 200,000 businesses worldwide.
But unlike Slack, Microsoft had until now offered no free tiers for the app.
The fact that Teams was limited to an Office 365 subscription, also meant it was difficult to attract smaller businesses or freelancers to use the app, as smaller players without Office 365 subscriptions that wanted to try Teams were previously limited to a month-long trial.
But now it seems that the free version of Teams will include support for up to 300 people, and it offers unlimited chat messages and search. The free version also includes built-in audio and video calling for groups, and unlimited app integrations for adding apps to Microsoft Teams.
Guest access will also provide a Team file storage of 10GB, with 2GB of personal storage for each member.
A video of the free version of Microsoft Teams can be found here featuring CEO Satya Nadella doing his best to big up the product.
And it is clear why Microsoft has done this, as Slack’s free version is limited to 10,000 searchable messages, as well as 10 app integrations.
Slack’s free version also only allows 5GB of file storage, with no guest accounts, and only 1:1 video chats.
Microsoft is not just facing Slack as a challenge in this sector. Another potential rival is Facebook At Work, which brings an enterprise version of the social network to the business world.
Slack meanwhile this week has announced improvements to its search features to make it easier for users to find messages. The improved search features apply to all versions of Slack and will rolled out in the coming weeks.