Microsoft introduces free tier in competitive workplace chat app market

Microsoft introduces a free version of Teams, going head-to-head with Slack

With a free version now available, I expect the 200,000 companies using Teams metric to continue to grow but I don't expect an overnight blossoming of this number as I would think that most companies who are interested in Teams already have access to the platform via a corporate subscription to Office 365.

Microsoft Corp.is taking the good fight to Slack Inc. with the launch of a free version of its Teams workplace collaboration service. Microsoft Teams' free version comes with unlimited chat messages and search, unlimited app integrations, 10GB of team storage, 2GB of storage per user, native audio and video calling for 1:1 conversations, groups, and the full team.

Ahead of the Teams announcement, Slack on Tuesday announced improvements to its own chat app's search features that the startup said will make it easier for users to find messages. Free Teams supports group voice and video calling, too; Slack's free tier is restricted to 1:1 video calls. Teams free offers unlimited app integrations with 140-plus business apps to choose from, including Adobe, Evernote and Trello.

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.

That's exactly what Microsoft announced today, with Microsoft CVP Ron Markezich describing the new offering as "a powerful introduction to Microsoft 365".

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Ability to communicate and collaborate with anyone inside or outside your organization, backed by Microsoft's secure, global infrastructure. The free version also doesn't require a Microsoft email account to sign up; any email address works.

Well before this launch and even before the general availability of the paid version of Microsoft Teams, one analyst predicted in January 2017 that Microsoft Teams would have more users within two years, but until now the biggest hurdle has been price.

The free version of Microsoft Teams is available starting today in 40 different languages in all markets Microsoft offers online services in.

Microsoft is also debuting a set of futuristic new meeting features first teased during its Build conference earlier this year.

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