Slack versus Microsoft Teams – Who’s Got the Muscle?
We assess which of the two really stands out. Here's everything you need to know.
Let’s begin with a popular anecdote, which despite its factual uncertainty, remains an interesting kick-off point.
Bill Gates and Satya Nadella (Microsoft CEO, in case you didn’t know) were initially eager to acquire Slack. The conversation, after a few rounds, fell through and the leaders at Microsoft decided to go their own way, and create a similar application of their own.
Let’s cut to 2018, and the landscape is widely different. Slack has steadily grown in popularity, and Microsoft Teams, is hot on its trail, with 200,000 organisations currently using it, and the company looking to drive in-roads with US Government customers.
So, the question is – which one is the winner, in this – no holds barred – competition? Is Slack still at the top, or does Microsoft Teams have what it takes, to trounce the former?
We consider a head-to-head appraisal.
The quick bits – fast facts
Till recently, the biggest difference between Teams and Slack, was that Microsoft Teams didn’t have a Freemium version; that problem is now a thing-of-the-past, with a new tier of Teams out there, that’s free, and ready to take on Slack.
Teams’ biggest challenge is that it isn’t easy to deploy or manage, with its focus clearly on larger enterprises. However, it’s very integration-friendly with other Office 365 applications.
Slack, on the other hand, is known for its various layers of usage options, and its meticulously-designed UX, and ability to integrate with almost any software, out there.
Both tools have Freemium versions, but if you need something stronger and more expansive, upgrading is the best option.
As I mentioned, both tools have the Freemium versions. But if you are interested in some advanced features of Teams and Slack, upgrading is your choice.
Teams’ budget version, comes with the Office 365 edition (budgeted or Business Essentials) at $5.00/user for every month, at a year-long commitment. This is cheaper than Slack’s cost-effective version (Standard), which is $6.67/user for the same timeframe.
Upgraded versions of both – Slack and Teams – come in at the same price-point, $12.50 a month, billed annually, for each user.
As mentioned, the setting up of Microsoft Teams is a little complex, and takes a bit of time. Once ready for use, you can enter into the Teams desktop app, and start collaborating. Slack’s deployment is much faster, with zero needs for credit card registration or phone number entry, with only 7-8 easy steps to get inside the app.
For Slack, inviting users is largely simple , and can be actioned at the end of the creation of a workspace. Alternatively, one can ask colleagues to join the workspace at any time.
Micosoft’s member adding system is more complex, with the need to add them first to the Office 365 Admin Panel, available via the Office start page.
Layout & Design
Both layouts are oddly similar, with a small vertical panel meant for contacts, as well as a number of tools, and a larger panel for conversations.
Teams carries an extra vertical for tabs like Activity, Chat, Teams, Files, and the like. The search box offers shortcuts to several actions via a drop-down list box.
In terms of design, Slack has a far wider range of possibilities, for you to customise the app as per your need or choice. Microsoft Teams has only 3 themes for now.
Again, both support group chat rooms, enabling threaded conversations and private chatting options. There’s the usual set of messaging features, such as editing, deleting, pinning, mentioning, sharing files, and threading.
Teams has a few advanced messaging features, while Slack offers the option to react to messages with smileys, and add additional reminders.
For both, the notification system is pretty solid and well-articulated.
For Slack, the size limit for uploading a file is 1GB, while in Teams this significantly bigger; it’s at 15 GB.
Slack’s video calling facility works well, with the option to have only a two-person call, until one is on a paid plan. On paid systems the limit for call attendees is at 15 for Slack, with Microsoft Teams coming in at a heavier, 80 people per video call.
Obviously, Teams has integrations with Office 365 applications, while also carrying synergies with 3rd party bits such as PM tools like Trello. Teams has 190+ integrations.
For Slack, this number is far greater, coming in at over 800+ integrations, with collaborations major industry giants like Salesforce.
Slack lets one easily run through messages, contacts, as well as files. One can even look for material within other applications like Google Docs and Dropbox.
The Teams search functions are also pretty robust.
Help & support
In Teams, a common way of garnering support is via T-Bot, popping up on your Chats tab once you’ve signed in. For Slack, the simplest way to ask for support is to talk directly with Slack’s Help Center.
So, it’s evident both Slack and Microsoft Teams are almost even, with each having its own standout areas.
So, what works for you, and why should you choose either?
The jury’s out on this one, with most individuals/firms having a personal and individualised set of preferences. However, here are our recommendations.
If you’re looking for an easy-to-use free tool with loads of integrations, and ease-of-use, Slack’s what you need. Conversely, if you’re an Office 365 regular, and are looking at an enterprise-grade investment, and don’t mind the initial set-up and admin issues, Microsoft Teams is the way to go.
That’s it then; look around, ask current users, and choose wisely and well!
Let us know your thoughts in the comments below.