Microsoft takes the fight to Slack with a free version of Teams

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On Thursday, Microsoft launched a free version of Teams worldwide across 40 languages.

Microsoft has upped the ante against popular chat software startup Slack by launching a free version of its own chat service, Teams. First, you only get to search the most recent 10 thousand messages - which, by the way, is actually one of the most annoying and limiting parts of Slack's free product.

It's not secret Slack has dominated workplace communication among tech companies the last few years, but Microsoft began to fight back when it introduced Teams back in 2016. Microsoft Teams free version is limited to up to 300 users and it's a very useful solution for small to medium sized businesses and project teams.

Microsoft says that more than 200,000 businesses are now using the Teams app in 181 markets and it would soon replace Skype for Business as the chat-based collaboration hub for Office 365. 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. Application integrations are unrestricted, and Microsoft is of course continuing to promote the tie-ins with the online versions of Word, Excel, PowerPoint, and OneNote.

The system is created to enable organizations to reach optimum communication and collaboration-from anywhere in the world.

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The version of Microsoft Teams is rolling out today, and that'll most probably boost its growth. Granted, there's always the chance Slack could improve its free offering to counter Microsoft, but we've heard of no such plans yet.

We're glad to see that Microsoft hasn't left the team video meetups and integrations with third-party apps behind a paywall.

The pay-to-play positioning of Teams to date has been a significant sticking point for enterprises hoping to use it for communicating with contractors, gig workers, freelancers and other user pools content to live outside the paid Microsoft environment.

Microsoft also is announcing officially today that its Microsoft Whiteboard app is now generally available for Windows 10. Microsoft has a long way to go to build up the sort of clout Slack has, and it's still missing important features like private channels, but a free tier is a big step in the right direction.

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