Microsoft Now Has a Free Version of Teams, Takes on Rival Slack

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Microsoft is gearing up for its yearly Inspire event and has drummed up interest with the announcement of a free version of Microsoft Teams.

The Teams platform has been around since 2016 and 200,000 companies are now using it. However, the lack of a free version or a freemium tier and the $60 annual fee made it inaccessible to freelancers and small businesses.

This oversight may have been costly, as small and medium businesses comprise more than 90 percent of businesses worldwide. Unlike Microsoft, Slack has had a free version of its service since its launch in 2014, which helped the work chat application gain a lot of attention and subscriptions.

It's better late than never as far as Microsoft is concerned, as the free version of Teams will include most of the features paid subscribers enjoy. Of course, these features have limits that will hopefully encourage people to sign up for an Office 365 subscription.

The Teams free version boasts unlimited search and chat messaging and includes support for up to 300 people. It also has integrated audio and video group calling. Users also have unlimited app integrations, so they can add applications like Trello without fear. It will also have guest access and a limited file storage of 10GB. Each member will have 2GB of private storage.

Microsoft is also introducing improvements like cloud recordings of meetings, inline message translation for members who speak a different language and background blurring for video calls.

In contrast, Slack's popular free version is limited to 10 app integrations, 10,000 searchable messages, and 5GB of storage. There are no options for guest accounts or group video chats, but one-on-one video chatting is offered. In short, Teams has fewer restrictions as long as you keep the team to less than 300 people.

However, Microsoft is limiting full integration of desktop versions of Excel and Word to paid Office 365 subscribers. But users of the free Teams platform can enjoy the web versions of key Office apps from Office Online.

The free version of Microsoft Teams is available now in 40 languages. Companies that have reached the limits of the app have the option to upgrade to an Office 365 subscription for as little as $5 a month per user.

[Featured image via Microsoft]
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