Collaboration software competition is fierce, but two of the frontrunners are Slack and Microsoft Teams. Ever since Teams has stepped up its evolution to compete more directly with Slack — especially for the attention small businesses — the two business chat apps have become more similar than ever.
But while it may be difficult to tell the difference between the two team communication services at a glance, there’s a lot going on beneath the surface. We’re taking a closer look at Slack and Teams so you can understand how they differ, and which would work best for you.
Both Slack and Teams have fairly similar conversation threads for messages. Plain text and tagging are, of course, supported. They also support stickers and GIFs, although Teams does more in this regard: It has a more robust sticker store to browse through, and automatic integration with GIPHY, as well as its own meme generator (Slack does offer integration with things like Bitmoji, but it isn’t as native as the Teams options). This may be an important factor depending on how memetastic your office is.
When it comes to customizing the message interface, Slack offers many different themes and color options for you to try until you get a look you want. Teams only has three different color options for its interface.
Both apps now offer freemium models, which is particularly attractive for smaller businesses that want to save money. These free downloads come with all basic services. Slack offers unlimited public and private channels, a 10,000 message log, file sharing, and 5GB of total storage. Teams offers unlimited messages, guest access screen sharing, and 2GB of storage.
Then both services have a couple of packages for adding more features. Slack has a standard plane at $6.67 per user (monthly) that adds things like screen sharing, unlimited app integration, and guest access, and a $12.50 Plus plan that adds a lot more support and options for internal integration with other business software.
Teams, meanwhile, offers an upgrade to a lot more storage when you get it as part of the $5 per month Office 365 Business Essentials plan — which, of course, also includes access to other Office 365 benefits. Other higher-tier Office 365 plans will include Teams as well.
As we mentioned, the free version of Slack comes with 5GB of file storage for a team. The paid plans increase this to 10GB per user and 20GB per user, respectively. There’s also a cap of 10,000 on message history for the free version, which disappears for the paid versions.
Teams offers 2GB of storage per user and 10GB total shared storage for a team for the free version. Switching to Office 365 increases that to 1TB of online storage for the entire business. There are no message history limits in Teams.
Slack has a limit of 10 integrations only in its free mode. This limitation goes away in the paid plans, and here businesses can take full advantage of Slack’s more than 800 app integration possibilities. If you use another productivity app at work, there’s a very good chance that Slack will support it.
Teams takes a different approach. It offers unlimited integrations with other apps for all pricing tiers, but only supports around 180 apps. However, we’ll also note that Teams does have the best integration options with Office 365, which it’s designed to pair with perfectly. This may be the most important consideration for businesses that use Office 365.
In its free plan, Slack offers unlimited 1-to-1 voice or video calls. However, if you want to include more people in the calls, you’ll have to get the paid version, which allows for conference calls with up to 15 people.
Teams, meanwhile, has far superior web conferencing capabilities. On all tiers, including the free version, you can conference with voice or video with up to 250 people. Teams also offers the ability to record meetings (which Slack does not) and provide screen sharing (which Slack only has in higher tiers). Obviously, this is a boon for team-oriented or larger companies where this type of conferencing is common.
Both apps come with bots that are designed to help out new users and make it easier for people to locate specific information on the platform. The Slackbot is a private chat window that you can use to save links, experiment with new integrates, or ask general questions to view more information.
Microsoft Teams is a little more complicated. It has its own helper bot called T-Bot that you can use for basic questions and information, along with some nice FAQs and training videos. However, with Teams you also get access to WhoBot, a more advanced bot with Graph AI that you can use to find out more information about specific teams or employees — like their specialties, managers, departments, and more. WhoBot can also answer general questions with employee recommendations for those who need help or are putting together teams.
Finally, it’s worth noting that both services allow you to integrate additional bots if you want, although these will be less useful for support and training.
Both Slack and Teams are available on Windows, MacOS. iOS, Android, and as a web client.
However, Slack also adds compatibility with Linux, which Teams doesn’t currently support.
Which chat app wins?
Both Slack and Teams are excellent chat applications for organizations and companies. Ultimately, the choice between the two depends what specifically you are looking for in a chat and collaboration app. If you need a certain type of app integration, make sure you double-check that your app is supported, too.
Slack is a little friendlier for smaller, independent users, with its better meme and gif support. It’s also an independent application that might work better for a group that’s more platform-agnostic. For that reason, it’s the choice that will fit for the majority of people looking for a chat application.
Teams, however, certainly has its place. It’s better for larger, more complex companies. If a company is already an Office 365 subscriber, connecting up with Teams is a great solution in terms of features and pricing. In particular, the more robust video conferencing solution should be attractive to companies with remote members.
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