Here’s a peculiar fact: Microsoft Teams could not have existed.
On a winter day 2016, Bill Gates and Satya Nadella met up for coffee. (As rumor has it.) Microsoft’s founder and its CEO were sipping drinks and basking in the sun. The main question on the agenda was: should they bid $8 bln to acquire Slack? In the end, whether the coffee was bitter or the sun was too hot, they vetoed the big purchase. Microsoft’s top dogs decided to develop their own application. Later on, in November 2016 Microsoft Teams made its official launch.
Now, as for 2018, MT with 200,000 organizations using it, is in hot pursuit of their biggest rival – Slack. Microsoft Teams pulls into pole position for large enterprises and is headed to U.S. Government customers.
Thanks to building Chanty – an AI-powered team chat, our team spent weeks performing an in-depth analysis of our competitors. We’ve considered their pros and cons from a customer’s perspective to design a smart and easy-to-use team chat. Don’t hesitate to give Chanty a try, we are looking forward to your feedback!
Now, let’s look at the key features of Slack and Microsoft Teams.
For those of you in a hurry, let’s make a quick comparison.
Until recently, the main difference between the tools was that Microsoft Teams didn’t have a Freemium version. However, in July 2018 Microsoft introduced a new tier of Teams available at no cost, shoring up its position as a Slack competitor.
Talking about distinctions, MT doesn’t seem easy to deploy and admin. In general, it is designed for larger enterprises. However, it offers some convenient features for businesses of any size, such as robust integration with Office 365 applications. Slack, in its turn, is famous for the carefully designed UX and has integrations with pretty much every piece of software.
For a more careful analysis of Slack, read our Slack review article.
Standard $6.67 user/month (billed annually)
Plus $12.50 user/month (billed annually)
Office 365 Business Essentials
$5 per user/month
Office 365 Business Premium
$12.50 per user/month
You can try both paid plans for free for 30 days
|Message history limit||10K messages in Free plan, unlimited in Standard and Plus plans||Unlimited in all plans|
|Audio/video calls||Unlimited 1:1 voice and video calls in Free plan
Conference calls for up to 15 participants in Paid plans
|Voice/video calls with up to 80 people in a meeting.|
|Integrations||10 integrations limit in Free plan, 800+ integrations in paid plans||180+ apps and services (as of July 2018)|
|File storage limit||Free plan: 5GB file storage for a team
Standard plan: 10GB per user
Plus plan: 20GB per user
|Free plan: 2 GB/user and 10GB of shared storage
Paid plans: 1 TB per organization
|Screen sharing||Unavailable in Free version, available in Standard and Plus versions||Available in all plans|
|Interface color options||Custom sidebar themes.||3 themes (light, dark, high contrast)|
As I mentioned, both tools have the Freemium versions. But if you are interested in some advanced features of MT and Slack, upgrading is your choice.
MT paid plans are available to account holders for Business Premium and Essentials models.
The most budget Office 365 version that has MT in its package (Business Essentials) costs $5.00 user/ month (annual commitment). It’s less expensive than the Slack’s cheapest (Standard) version, which is $6.67 user/month (billed annually). If to consider that the Office 365 subscription includes access to a set of Microsoft applications, its pricing seems more appealing than the Slack’s one.
The more upgraded versions of both Slack (Plus version) and MT (Office 365 Business Premium) cost the same – $12.50 user/month (billed annually).
At the same time, our Chanty team chat is more affordable than Slack and Microsoft. So if the price is a game changer for you, have a try on our AI-powered, easy to use team chat with unlimited message history.
When deploying Microsoft Teams, arm yourself with patience. In my experience, it may take a while and be somewhat confusing. In this article, we’ll consider the case when you don’t have Office 365 with MT in the package yet.
Let’s start from MT page. This is where you sign up and download the MT app. Whether you are interested in a free trial or up to buy Office 365, be prepared to share a bunch of your personal info, including credit card information, phone number and business email (the personal one won’t work. I tried to cheat – no use).
After your free trial registration (or the purchase) is completed, you’ll get to Team deployment advisor. It offers quite a lot of tools, so it’s not easy to do the stuff, but not the fluff.
Your deployment voyage is about to end when you come to the Admin Panel where you can start all your activities. Once again, you’ll encounter many boxes and tabs. The only way to succeed is to keep it simple and stick to the goal – MT deployment. The details can be worked out later.
Eventually, you’ll enter to the MT desktop app, in which you can start collaborating.
Slack’s deployment is much easier and faster. No credit card or the phone number is required unless you are interested in a paid version. Overall, you’ll have to go through 7-8 registration steps, like this one.
Overall, it took me about 7 minutes to deploy Slack and about an hour to start Microsoft Teams.
In Slack, inviting members to your workspace is simple. The app will offer you to do it at the end of creating a workspace. As an alternative, you can ask your colleagues to join the workspace anytime (using the tab “invite people”).
After you add a user in the Admin panel, they get an email at “on.microsoft.com” domain. They should log in Office 365 and change a given password. (Wow, that’s a lot of steps, I know!) Only then, you can go to the MT app and add a user to your team.
My two colleagues whom I sent an invitation to join MT, complained it took them too much time to deploy and sign up for MT.
If you are a lead in your company, you wouldn’t like to spend so much time on deployment and adding users. I’d recommend you delegate this task to IT admins. As an alternative, you may give a try to a more simple, yet fast and agile tool like Chanty.
The layouts of Slack and Microsoft Teams look similar. Both have a smaller vertical panel for contacts and some tools, as well as a bigger one, primarily, for conversations.
Slack’s layout vs. Microsoft Teams layout:
At the same time, MT has an extra vertical (the far left) panel featuring tabs like “Activity”, “Chat”, “Teams”, “Meetings” and “Files”. Also, its search box (in the upper part of the workspace) differs from the Slack’s one by functionality. It offers shortcuts to multiple actions via drop-down list box. Type “@” or “/” to see someone’s activity, set your status, call someone, change status, join a team etc.
As for design, Slack has wider possibilities of adjusting the look of your workspace. You can change the color of your left sidebar in any way you wish.
Microsoft Teams offers only three themes for customizing your workspace.
Both – Slack and MT – support group chat rooms with threaded conversations, as well as private chatting. Both of them offer a wide set of messaging features, like editing, deleting, pinning (analog to “saving” at MT), mentioning, threading, sharing files, etc.
If to talk about differences, Microsoft Teams has advanced formatting tools within a messaging box. You can create a bulleted list, change the font color, etc.
Also, in Microsoft Teams you can insert not only an emoji but also a gif. If you are confused which one to choose, you can type the name of the emotion you want to express in a search box. So if you want to declare love to your colleague (happens, you know), you are sure to send the right smiley or gif.
Slack, in its turn, allows you to react to a message not just with Like (as in MT), but with smileys and put a reminder on a particular message.
To sum up, here’s a comparison of what you can do with messages in both tools.
What can you do with messages?
Both – Slack and Microsoft Teams – have a well-designed notification system. You can fine-tune it in case you need to be alerted about new messages, mentions etc. However, both tools seem to lack a single alert center where all notifications can be summed up in a review, like in Stride.
"50 Surefire Ways to Improve Your
Communication issues at work?
Team Communication in 2019"
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Both – Slack and Microsoft Teams – have threads. This is a controversial feature loved by ones, hated by others. Threads let you respond directly to a message in a channel, keeping the replies organized neatly in a single conversation.
To create a thread in MT, one should hit “reply” to a message. You can follow the threads via “All Threads” tab or by “pinning” or “starring” a particular message. Unlike Slack, threading is only available in channels in MT – you can’t use them in private conversations. Similar to Slack, there’s no way to turn off threads in Microsoft Teams.
While in Slack the size limit for uploading a file is 1GB, it’s significantly bigger in Microsoft Teams – 15GB. I decided not to check these numbers by uploading huge files, as I was more interested in collaboration possibilities. So I uploaded an 800MB video file and sent it to a colleague. Interestingly, he was able to play it right in the MT workspace. In other words, he didn’t need to download it in order to watch. (Slack doesn’t have a built-in feature for that).
However, I experienced problems with loading the video I sent and actually couldn’t watch it.
Ideally, my colleague and I could both watch the video within the workspace and chat in the panel box on the right. The same way we can collaborate on any Office or OneDrive document – access it and edit without leaving the app. As follows from this short review, Microsoft presents this collaboration feature as its main advantage before Slack.
As for file storage limit, Slack offers 5GB for a team in the free plan and 10-20GB per user in paid plans. Microsoft Teams provides 1TB per organization.
Here’s our team exploring video calls in MT. Everything went fine, we could see and hear each other well.
When necessary, we could jump from instant messaging to a video or audio call at the push of a button.
We also successfully tested an MT built-in feature – recording a call. The video of our meeting appeared in the chat feed a few minutes after finishing the conversation.
As for Slack video calls, our team tested them many times, so we didn’t do it again. What’s important to know is that they are available between only two people unless you are on a paid plan. If you are, however, the participants limit extends to 15 people, comparing to 80 in MT.
Naturally, MT has integrations with Office 365 apps. So there is no problem with adding such services as SharePoint, OneNote, Power BI, and Planner. MT also provides integrations with third-party bots and apps including project management tools like Trello. However, there are not so many of them. As of July 2018, overall MT has 180+ integrations.
It is clear that MT is trying to catch up with Slack. However, it’s a long way to go. Slack has more ready-to-go integrations with external systems (800+). For example, Slack has integration with Salesforce that Teams doesn’t have.
In Slack you can easily search through messages, contacts and files. You can even find what you need in the content within the files (Google Docs and Dropbox files are also searchable). We decided to double-check it.
Long ago, I shared an e-book ‘50 ways to improve team communication’ in PDF. So I typed the name of a chapter ‘Celebrating workplace diversity’ to check whether I can find it via search. And it worked!
I tried the same experiment with MT. To my surprise, it worked too! Microsoft Teams searches within the content of your files.
Let’s say, I need to delete a channel in Slack or Microsoft Teams and I’m not sure how to do it. What will happen if I turn for assistance?
In Microsoft Teams, the most common way to get support is via T-Bot. It pops up in your Chats tab after you sign in. I typed “delete a channel” in a message box and got some instructions in return. Seems to work fine.
If you prefer browsing the content, there are sections in the tabs, you can use, such as Help and FAQs.
In Slack, the easiest way to get support is to address Slack’s Help Centre. After just typing the word “delete”, the answer to my question “how to delete a channel” popped up.
However, in the case with Slack and MT, it may be enough to simply Google your question. Chances are you’ll find the answer much faster.
Pricing. Both – MT and Slack – offer the Freemium plans. As for the paid versions, the most affordable MT plan (within Office 365 package) is less expensive than the Slack’s cheapest tier.
Getting started. While Slack is easy to deploy, you can spend much time starting, managing MT and inviting users to it. If you are a lead, you‘d better delegate all technical tasks to an IT admin.
Layout and design. MT’s layout is more saturated with tabs. Slack, in its turn, tends to wrap up its features to improve UI. It also provides wider possibilities for customizing a workspace.
Messaging. Both tools have many instruments for messaging, including threads. MT provide more built-in options for formatting, while Slack allows setting a reminder for a particular message.
File sharing and collaboration. In MT, you can share Office files and collaborate on them while right in the workspace. Slack doesn’t have built-in tools for that, so to edit a Doc. file, for example, you’ve got to download it and switch to another tab for editing.
Video calls. MT has a built-in feature for recording video calls. In Slack, you can do it via app only, e.g. using HYFY Screen Video Recorder. Also, in MT you can have a video meeting with up to 80 people in a call, while Slack limits you with only 15 participants (even in paid plans).
Integrations. MT has native integrations with Office applications and some third-party apps, However, Slack has way more of them – 800+ (comparing to 180+ in MT).
Search. Both tools search within messages, contacts, files, and even within the content of the files you share.
Help and Support. Both – Microsoft Teams and Slack – provide support via different channels, such as bots and help sections.
To sum it up, Slack may be your choice if it has some third-party apps that you need, and Microsoft Teams doesn’t have them.
Microsoft Teams is your way to go:
Did we miss something? Drop a comment.
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