With remote work becoming more mainstream, group chat applications have become essential. While the App Store and Google Play are packed with digital business communication tools, Microsoft Teams and Slack have quickly become two of the most popular group chat apps available. While they accomplish similar things, each tool has distinct advantages.
Comparing the benefits of each application is a smart way to make sure you choose the right option for your business needs, the program that enables effective, efficient communication — no matter where your team members may be.
What is Slack?
Part instant messenger, part file sharing service, part video chat platform, Slack offers business teams of all sizes a digital solution that combines multiple communication tools in a single, user-friendly application. Launched in August 2013, Slack entered the marketplace as a “collaboration hub that can replace email to help you and your team work together seamlessly.” With a simple, straightforward design, Slack takes the simplicity of one-to-one messengers and expands it to facilitate easy group communication. Users can participate in multiple conversation threads, share files with team members, and even initiate audio or video calls within the Slack platform.
What is Microsoft Teams?
Teams is a digital communication and collaboration platform that allows groups to share files, send instant messages, host video meetings, and store files with ease. In 2016, three years after Slack was launched, Microsoft briefly considered purchasing Slack for the staggering price of $8 billion. However, Bill Gates, acting as an advisor on the Microsoft technology review team, shot down the idea and suggested a different approach. Rather than purchasing a competitor’s product, Gates made a case for developing a proprietary Microsoft application that would operate similarly, but with strategic differences that he and his fellow tech advisors deemed essential. The purchase proposal died, and Microsoft Teams was born. The Teams application features many of the same functionalities as Slack and integrates seamlessly with Microsoft’s popular Office 365 software suite.
Slack vs. Teams: Comparing Communication Apps
If you are a business owner or manager trying to determine which group communication app would meet your team’s specific needs, the following comparison is designed to make your decision process a little easier.
To help encourage potential users to try their product before they make a financial investment, Slack offers a free version. This version offers unlimited personal and group chat and 5GB of storage. Additional features such as screen sharing, guest access, unlimited app integrations, and increased file storage are available with monthly service plans. Slack offers a Standard Plan that provides 10GB of file storage, unlimited message history, and voice calls for up to 15 participants for $6.67 per person per month. The Plus Plan provides 20GB of storage, unlimited message channels, and 24/7 support with a four-hour first response time for $12.50 per person per month. A special Enterprise-level plan is also available.
Microsoft Teams Pricing
Teams also offers a free version of their group communication platform, which offers unlimited chat, video calling, 10GB of team file storage, and 2GB of personal file storage per person. The free version also provides easy integration with Microsoft Office applications like Word, Excel, PowerPoint, and OneNote. Microsoft offers users various package upgrade options, including a Microsoft 365 Business Basic upgrade for $5.00 per user per month, a Microsoft 365 Business Standard upgrade for $12.50 per user per month, and an Office 365 E3 upgrade for $20.00 per user per month. Each subscription includes a full-feature version of Teams with 1TB of storage per person.
When it comes to communication, Slack keeps it simple. The app allows users to conduct private messaging and group conversations with ease. All conversations are tracked and saved on a convenient sidebar. For discussions that will focus on specific projects or topics, users can create specialized channels.
If you want to take messaging up a level, Slack’s video chat feature lets you initiate video calls with up to 15 participants by simply clicking the phone icon. Video calls are conducted on a pop-up window within the app, and they offer convenient features like screen sharing.
Slack also provides straightforward file sharing, allowing users to share documents, spreadsheets, PDFs, and countless other file types without ever leaving the application. File uploads are limited to 1GB each, and personal file storage ranges from 5GB for the free version to 10GB for paid versions.
In what may be its most impressive feature, Slack is highly customizable, integrating with more than 800 apps or programs, including Google Drive, Giphy, Asana, Front, and Trello. By allowing users to access multiple programs without switching screens or tabs, Slack increases productivity by significantly reducing potential distractions.
Microsoft Teams Features
With some estimates suggesting that as many as 80% of businesses use some version of Microsoft Office, it makes sense that the company’s tech developers know how to develop an effective app for business communication. Microsoft Teams offers simple private messaging and group chat interfaces that feel familiar to anyone who uses Windows-based software.
Video calls are where Microsoft Teams really shines, allowing up to 250 people to participate in a single call. Teams’ robust video chat capabilities make it an excellent solution for medium to large businesses with employees spread across multiple offices and locations.
Since file sharing is a key feature of any business communication tool, Microsoft Teams provides impressive file sharing and storage. Users can upload files up to 15GB and store up to 1TB per license purchased.
While its integration options may not be as expansive as Slack, Microsoft Teams is no slouch. In addition to its ability to work seamlessly with any of the Office 365 applications, Teams can also integrate with more than 250 applications such as YouTube, OneNote, Wrike, and Polly.
Slack User Experience
With a highly customizable interface and intuitive controls, Slack provides a simple communication solution that is easy to set up and even easier to use. It’s ideal for any business that wants to connect its workforce quickly and efficiently. And with little to no learning curve, Slack provides “out-of-the-box” utility that makes it an attractive option for organizations of any size.
Mircosoft Teams User Experience
While Teams’ user interface is efficient and its capabilities are significant, implementation requires special attention. Since it is designed to integrate with Office 365, Teams requires proper deployment in order to take advantage of its full set of features. It can be installed and put to use quickly, but the additional time spent on implementation will make it a far more useful tool.
At the end of the day, choosing between Slack and Microsoft Teams comes down to a combination of business needs and personal preference. Since either will be a valuable tool for your entire organization, the time spent considering the pros and cons of each will be time well spent.