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Slack Vs Microsoft Teams: Office 365 Takes On the Collaboration King

Microsoft’s latest productivity tool Teams has been in beta since November, and this week it went live for Office 365 users around the world.

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Some have been touting Teams as Microsoft’s Slack-killer app, with others slightly less enthused about the enterprise offering.

Today we’ll do our best to demystify the subject so that you can stop slacking and figure out which is the best option for your team!

Pricing

Pricing is probably the best place for us to start because Microsoft Teams does not exist as a standalone service in the way that Slack does.

Microsoft Teams has been integrated into Office 365 as a default feature for certain subscription levels.

This means that if you already have an Office 365 Business Essentials, Business Premium, Enterprise E1, E3, or E5 subscription, you now have access to Teams at no additional cost.

You can log into Teams using your existing 365 credentials. There is no additional registration or onboarding necessary.

On the other hand, Slack adopts a freemium business model that incorporates a free tier for users to trial the app or roll it out in a smaller team.

Depending on what kind of online storage, email, and productivity apps you want to integrate with Slack, the annual cost sits at around $140-270 (£115-220) per user.

Microsoft Office 365 pricing starts at $60 (£49) per user per year for its Business Premium tier.

This includes Microsoft Teams on top of Skype for Business, Exchange email, and 1TB of OneDrive for Business storage.

…and the winner is:

Looking at pricing alone, Microsoft Teams is the clear winner.

Even if you upgrade your Office 365 subscription to E3 with full access to the Office applications, you’ll still only be paying $240 (£196) per user per year.

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Third-Party Integration

The Slack App Directory is currently a whole lot more expensive than the Microsoft Teams integrations, of which there are approximately 150 at launch.

Despite Teams boasting many partners, there are currently only a handful of default integrations built into the application.

One of the standout features of Teams is its tab-based interface.

Tabbed navigation enables users to add their own custom tabs based on the specific integrations they need access to.

An example of this would be your Support or Helpdesk teams using a tabbed instance of Zendesk, while your Marketing guys open a Hootsuite tab or two to monitor social media streams and publish content.

A downside to Microsoft Teams is the lack of integration with other third-party tools like Google Drive and Dropbox.

The biggest drawback is the fact that you can only interact with people who are already within your Office 365 network.

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Slack, on the other hand, allows you to invite users via email, with the option to limit their access to particular channels if necessary.

Microsoft has promised us that cross-platform integration is coming, but for now we’ll have to sit tight.

…and the winner is:

This is a tough one; let’s break it down:

  • App Directory Pricing: Teams Slack
  • Cross-Platform Integration: Teams Slack
  • Built-In Integrations: Teams Slack
  • Tabbed Integrations: Teams Slack

There isn’t much to set the two apart in this area.

The main distinction is whether you need a platform that will enable collaboration with groups and individuals outside of your organisation.

If so, Slack is the way to go. Otherwise, let’s keep reading.

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Bots

Slackbot

If you’ve used Slack for any amount of time, you’ll no doubt have dabbled with Slackbot.

Slackbot is a separate private conversation that can answer simple questions, as well as acting as a test environment for integrations.

Microsoft Teams introduces not one, but two bots: T-Bot and the yet-to-be-released WhoBot.

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T-Bot

T-Bot works similarly to Slackbot, enabling you to ask questions about members of your group and other topics. You’ll likely notice some parallels with Cortana in Windows 10.

Moreover, T-Bot offers a choice of user-interfaces, with a tabbed browser-like instance accompanying the more standard chat-style interface which acts more like a conversation with the AI.

WhoBot

Far more impressive is WhoBot, which unfortunately doesn’t have a confirmed release date yet.

WhoBot uses the Microsoft Graph AI as its framework, accessing data from Active Directory and sucking it into Teams to answer your questions about individuals within your organisation.

If you’re looking for someone with a specific skill set or area of expertise, Teams will comb through your organisation’s directory for personal records, communications, or other details that may be relevant.

After finding the personnel you need, you’ll see information such as their department and which manager they report to so that you know exactly where they stand in the pecking order.

…and the winner is:

It wouldn’t be fair to compare our contenders based on a feature like WhoBot which hasn’t been released yet.

Nevertheless, T-Bot already holds its own against Slackbot, and with WhoBot incoming it looks like Slack will have to up its game in the bot department.

WhoBot’s integration with Active Directory is one of many examples where Microsoft Teams benefits greatly from calling Office 365 its home.

This one goes to Microsoft Teams.

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Security

Microsoft has long been dominant on the security front, and Teams is no exception.

Both apps are compliant with ISO 27001, and incorporate two-factor authentication for granular teams and entire organisations.

Teams boasts additional Microsoft SharePoint encryption, as well as a host of other certifications:

  • Cloud Security Alliance (CSA)
  • EU Model Clauses (EUMC)
  • HIPAA
  • ISO 27018
  • SSAE16 SOC 1
  • SSAE16 SOC 2

Teams also integrates with Microsoft Intune, providing a decent level of mobile device management.

One of the defining aspects of Microsoft Teams is the level of functionality in the Office 365 Admin Centre.

Within the Admin Centre, you can adjust features like screen sharing, content access, and profile configuration. You can determine who can use integrations, video, bots, and even Microsoft Teams as a whole.

…and the winner is:

Microsoft Teams.

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Funzies

Microsoft Teams has a meme generator, need we say more?

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But seriously, you can really tell that Microsoft has gone that extra mile with the multitude of memes, stickers, and Emoji goodness in Teams.

Facebook Messenger will come to mind when you use the stickers in Teams. There is a library of sticker sets, designed specifically with business in mind and including categories such as Dev, Legal, and Office Drama.

Slack is well known for its many / commands, with /gif and /giphy commands making it easy to insert your favourite Emojis and animations into chats.

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This is an undeniably solid feature of Slack, but Teams goes a step further by implementing a preview feature along with a scrollable list of search results.

…and the winner is:

Microsoft Teams does more than Slack in this area.

Slack’s /gif and /giphy features are great, but being able to preview content before inserting it into a message is a must-have feature.

Above all, there is now a meme generator built into Office 365!

Microsoft Teams takes this one.

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User-Interface

The screenshot below shows what the Microsoft Teams interface looks like:

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So, on the left-hand side you have tabs for Activity, Chat, Teams, Messages, and Files.

Activity essentially acts like a social media feed for your organisation’s Intranet. The threading and overall appearance is somewhat akin to Yammer.

Teams is like Slack here, so if you are mentioned by name in a post you will see a notification icon appear beside the relevant message.

Chat and Teams, as the names would suggest, are where your conversations are found. There is a text box at the bottom along with icons you can click to access GIFs, stickers, and files.

…and the winner is:

Slack offers far more UI customisation than Microsoft Teams. There are loads of skins and themes to choose from, while Teams only currently offers light, dark, and high-contrast themes.

The Teams interface isn’t terrible but it certainly has some way to come.

Slack wins this one.

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Conclusion

As a Microsoft house, we’re admittedly a little biased.

Having said that, I have plenty of personal experience with Slack, and I’ve always been a fan. It looks great, and offers an awesome array of dependable features.

Slack paved the way for business chat and collaboration, but I’m very impressed by what Microsoft has achieved with Teams. 

Teams is the obvious choice if you’re already working in a Microsoft environment with Office 365.

The only exception to this would be if you need a collaboration tool for chats and meetings with people from outside of your organisation.

Slack is a great choice for smaller teams that aren’t already using Office 365. It is worth taking a moment to consider scaling, however. Office 365 may become a necessity as your organisation grows, making Teams a more viable option.

Either way, these are both fantastic tools with loads more great features on the horizon.

The collaboration competition is certainly heating up, so it will be interesting to see what Microsoft and Slack can come up with.

Talk to us today about your favourite collaboration tool, or let us know if you’re unsure which one to choose and we’ll provide some expert guidance.