With an increase in the number of people working from home due to COVID-19, collaboration apps which enable remote work are more important than ever. Microsoft Teams and Slack are the two leading collaboration apps, but which one is better?
We extensively reviewed both apps to answer these questions. Here’s a summary of our findings:
- The free version of Microsoft Teams is much better than Slack’s free plan. It has video and voice calling for teams and no limit on the number of searchable messages.
- Slack has the edge when it comes to installation and onboarding new members. It doesn’t ask for too much personal information and installs pretty quickly. Inviting members to join your team is also very easy.
- Teams is the clear winner as far as voice and video calls are concerned. The messaging interface on both apps is pretty similar though using GIFs is a simpler process on Teams.
- Slack’s inbuilt bot is very helpful while Microsoft Teams doesn’t currently have one. Slack also has a larger number of integrations/apps to choose from. Of course, Teams integrates seamlessly with other Microsoft Office products.
- Both Slack and Teams encrypt your messages. You can also use a VPN to further encrypt traffic. We recommend NordVPN!
Overall, the choice between the two comes down to your requirements. Slack is the better option for small teams while Teams is well suited for larger organisations.
The messaging enterprise war between Microsoft Teams and Slack is heating up. Business messaging and communication apps continue to be important as many companies choose to work remotely despite the relative reduction in COVID cases.
Microsoft Teams and Slack have emerged as the two front runners in this category. Indeed, the competition between the two extends beyond software. Slack has actually filed an antitrust/competition case against Microsoft before the European Regulator for its bundling of Teams with other office apps.
This article compares the features, pricing, and other aspects of these two messaging apps. It provides a detailed overview of the similarities and differences of both apps and should help you decide which one is best suited to your company.
Microsoft Teams vs. Slack: Overview
In this section, we break down the key features of both Microsoft Teams and Slack. A detailed explanation of each feature set is provided later in the article.
The features listed below can help get a quick overview of the key differences between Teams and Slack:
Teams Essentials: $4/month
365 Business Basic: $6/month
365 Business Standard: $12.50/month
Enterprise Grid: Custom price quote
|Supported Operating Systems||Desktop: macOS, Windows, and Linux|
Mobile: iOS and Android
Browsers: Chrome, Firefox, Safari, and Edge
|Desktop: macOS, Windows, and Linux|
Mobile: iOS and Android
Browsers: Chrome, Firefox, Safari, and Edge
|Messaging||Messages can be edited, formatted, and can include emojis.|
Working with GIPHY is hard
|Lots of text formatting options, including font color|
Excellent GIPHY integration
|Voice and Video Calling||Limited to 15 members||Up to 250 members|
|File Attachment Size||10GB||250GB|
|Bots||Slackbot||No dedicated bots|
Microsoft Teams vs. Slack: Market Comparison
A good way to choose between two products is by looking at how many people actively use them. Judging solely by active users, Microsoft Teams would appear well ahead of Slack.
As per the latest reliable market data, Microsoft Teams has more than 75 million daily active users, while Slack last reported close to 10 million users. The rapid pace of Microsoft Teams’ growth is evident in the chart below.
However, a closer look at the numbers reveals a more nuanced story about the number of people using Microsoft Teams and Slack. Teams’ larger user base can partly be attributed to its popularity with larger organizations. Slack is comparatively preferred by smaller organizations, especially start-ups.
Moreover, Slack itself has sought to move away from active users as a metric and instead relies on measurements of engagements generated and actions taken on the app. For instance, it tracks simultaneously collected users, which hit a peak of 12.5 million in 2020.
That said, it is undeniable that Microsoft Teams’ integration with other Office products makes it a very popular choice overall.
Microsoft Teams vs. Slack: Pricing and Features
Both Microsoft Teams and Slack provide multiple pricing options for users to choose from. We guide you through each of the pricing options and their features, starting with Slack.
Slack’s free version packs some solid features, such as messaging and file sharing for an unlimited number of users. It offers access to your team messages, albeit up to a limit of 10k.
While video and voice calls can be made using the free version, these are limited to 1:1 calls between teammates. Integration with other apps is also limited to a total of 10 apps.
The base paid plan, known as Slack Pro, adds a number of useful features. For instance, it removes the limit of the number of searchable messages. Video calls can also be shared between 15 members of a team.
24/7 customer service is also available with the Pro bundle. It also enables the addition of external contributors to a Slack workspace. The Pro plan starts at $6.67/month and is billed annually.
The higher-priced packages, namely Business+ and Enterprise Grid, further increase the caps placed on data storage per user and the number of workspaces. The plans also offer a four-hour first response guarantee while contacting customer care.
Teams’ free version has more bells and whistles than Slack’s. To begin with, there’s no limit on the number of searchable messages. While the number of users is limited to 500k, this is more than sufficient for most organizations.
Additionally, Teams’ free version can be used to make video and audio calls with up to 100 members. Access to the web version of Office products is also built-in.
The Essentials package, which costs $4/user/month is a slight improvement on the free version as it offers more data per user, longer team calls, and more active users in a chat.
In addition to further increasing limits on data and active users, the Business Basic and Business Standard plans also provide a range of security and compliance features.
Overall, Teams free version seems like a clear winner over Slack. It also offers a mid-tier $4 subscription, which is cheaper than Slack’s Pro package. The paid versions are harder to differentiate, with individual preferences playing a large role.
Microsoft Teams vs. Slack: Appearance and Usability
Now, let’s talk about the appearance and ease of use of both Microsoft Teams and Slack.
Both Teams and Slack are fairly easy to download, install and set up. The process is particularly smooth on Slack. You can get started by going to the Slack website and signing up for a free account. All that’s required is your email address.
Once that’s done, you’ll be prompted to either download the Slack app or use the web version in your browser.
On the Mac, you can simply download the Slack app by going to App Store. On Windows, you need to download the .exe file from Slack’s website and install it. After installation, Slack has a tutorial that helps invite team members, set up a workspace, and start sending messages.
The entire process of signing up, downloading, and installing took us less than five minutes.
The process for Microsoft Teams is slightly more complicated. Registering a new Teams account, for instance, involves setting up a Microsoft Account which requires your phone number and an existing email address.
After you’ve signed up, you can download and install the Teams app from the Microsoft Teams’ website, or through the Microsoft Store.
Once downloaded, installing Microsoft Teams took less than a minute on our Macbook Pro. After installation, we were asked to sign in to our Microsoft Account. For some reason, this process took a few attempts to complete.
Post sign-in, the Teams’ home interface shows up (covered in detail later). Overall, it was easier to install and set up Slack when compared to Teams. The onboarding tutorial on Slack also makes it easier to get started since it offers detailed information.
Inviting Team Members
Since both apps are used primarily for business collaboration, inviting members is an integral aspect of their functionality. On Slack, you can add members to a team by clicking on ‘Add Teammates’ in the bar located on the right-hand side of the screen.
This brings up a pop-up window that can be used to send invites via mail or by forwarding an invite link. Moreover, you’re prompted to add team members as part of the set-up and installation process.
If you’re a team owner in Microsoft Teams, members can be added by clicking the three dots next to the team’s name. From the drop-down menu, click on Add Member.
Members can be added using their name, security group of Microsoft 365 group. Individuals outside the team can be added as guests using email IDs.
Hence, inviting team members on both apps is pretty simple. The only difference is that the Add Members button is placed on the home screen itself on Slack while it’s tucked away in a drop-down menu on Teams.
Slack was one of the first communication apps to be used by enterprises at scale. Its initial popularity led to competitors copying its slick user interface. Microsoft Teams is no different. As we’ll see below, there are several similarities between the interface and layouts of both apps.
The Slack app consists of two bars on the side and the main area where your messages are displayed. The bar at the right edge helps switch between different workspaces.
The second bar shows the different active chats, threads, and groups. As such, it acts as the primary navigation bar and helps switch between different chats and conversations. Alternatively, the search bar located at the top of the screen can help find information and messages shared earlier.
The Teams layout is pretty similar to Slack. It also features a main messaging screen and two sidebars. The bar on the extreme right of the screen lets users switch between chat, calls, calendar, and activity. Different teams that an individual has joined are visible in the Teams tab.
Within each team, channels can be created for specific projects and subjects. The search bar is also placed at the top of the screen and helps locate specific bits of information.
The Teams’ search box offers added functionality when compared to Slack as it can be used to join a team, get on a call, or change one’s status as well.
There’s not much to separate both apps when it comes to the user interface. Of course, Slack does offer more themes and customization options. Depending on how you like to personalize your apps, this could be an important factor.
If you’re all about tailoring the aesthetic to meet your needs, Slack offers much more in terms of features than Teams.
Microsoft Teams vs. Slack: Communication Features
This is probably the most important part, as both of these are primarily business communication apps. Let’s dive into it!
Text-based communication is vital for remote teams and hence the messaging features for both apps are very important.
To send a message on Slack, you just need to navigate to the channel/user you want to message and start typing in the text box at the bottom of the screen. Users can format text to make it bold, italic, or add a strikethrough. Code boxes are also available.
Bullet points and lists can also be added using the messaging box. Slack supports a range of emojis as well. While GIPHY has a Slack app, it’s not easy to use. You need to type /giphy and then describe the GIF you’re looking for. This doesn’t always lead to the best results.
You can also search for GIFs through a shortcut integration in Slack, but that also yields dodgy results at best.
While Microsoft Teams’ text box looks pretty similar, it has a few extra features. For example, you can change the color of the font. You can also use Headings for longer messages.
Moreover, the GIPHY integration on Teams is much better as you can actually search and choose a GIF instead of relying on a randomly generated one.
Teams has a slight edge when it comes to messaging due to the additional formatting options. However, Slack’s messaging interface is pretty great as well. The ability to use messages to set reminders and even create polls is beneficial.
All in all, Microsoft Teams has more messaging features than Slack, but both are incredibly robust when it comes to work-based communication.
Video and Voice Calling
While messaging is important it doesn’t quite match up to visual and spoken communication when it comes to ideation, coordination, and brainstorming. Hence, video and voice calling are important features of an enterprise messaging app.
As we mentioned earlier, calling on the free Slack plan is limited to 1:1 calls. On the paid plans, this increases to 15 members. A voice or video call can be started by growing to the group, individual, or channel of choice and clicking on the Call icon on the top left side of the screen.
We tried out a Slack video call and the audio and video quality was pretty good. We could easily share our screen as well though finding the recording option took some time. Moreover, recording can only be three minutes long, which isn’t suitable for longer calls.
Microsoft Teams really separates itself from Slack when it comes to audio and video calling. The free version includes voice and video calling for up to 100 members. This is increased to 300 members in the paid versions.
Additionally, Teams also lets you record calls without a third-party app and with no time limits. You can also enable live captioning and choose different virtual backgrounds.
Overall, Teams’ video calling functionality is much better than Slack’s, especially for larger teams. The in-built recording is a very useful feature as it can get hard to keep track of what was said in meetings with a large number of people.
Microsoft Teams vs. Slack: Productivity Tools
Working collaboratively together online is important to any team’s productivity and efficiency. Both Slack and Microsoft Teams add features that boost productivity and enable seamless coordination.
File Sharing and Storage
Sending documents, audio recordings and other files is a common requirement for remote and physical teams. Both Slack and Microsoft cater to this requirement by providing cloud storage and sharing options.
Attachments of up to 1 GB can be shared via Slack. In terms of storage, the free version includes 5GB for the entire workspace. This limit is increased to 10GB/ user in the Pro version and 20Gb/user in the Business+ subscription. Finally, the Enterprise Grid subscription includes a staggering 1TB/user.
Microsoft Teams Essentials, as well as the free package, offer the same storage as their Slack counterparts i.e. 10GB and 5GB respectively. However, the 365 Business Basic subscription includes 1TB of storage per user, which is considerably more than Slack’s mid-tier plan. The Business Standard plan also features 1 TB of file storage.
Teams also has an upper hand over Slack when it comes to sending large attachments. Users can upload files up to 250GB using Teams, which is much larger than Slack’s 1GB limit.
There’s little doubt about this one: Teams definitely has the upper hand.
Keyboard shortcuts help make navigation easier and reduce the time taken to respond to messages and complete other tasks. Teams and Slack both have their own keyboard shortcuts, with some minor differences.
Keyboard shortcuts on Slack are geared more towards managing messaging and chats. Hence, you can use your keys to read all unread messages, open threads, and format messages.
Though Teams has most of Slack’s keyboard shortcuts, it does lack the granular message control described above. However, it adds some shortcuts that make it easier to participate in video and audio calls.
For example, you can raise your hand or mute yourself using your keyboard on Teams.
Given the minor differences in functionality between the two, it’s hard to pick a winner when it comes to keyboard shortcuts. It really comes down to which set of shortcuts meets your needs, whether that’s messaging or video calling.
Feature integrations, such as document editing and task management, help expand the utility of enterprise messaging apps. There are more than 2,000 apps that can be integrated with Slack.
These include document editing software such as Office 365 and the Google Suite as well as task management tools such as monday.com and Trello.
Teams offer a comparatively small number of apps, with 1400 currently available. However, it integrates seamlessly with the Office 365 product line, even allowing documents to be edited and reviewed within the Teams app. If your team already uses other Office 365 products, then Teams is a clear winner.
Slack is ahead when it comes to the size of its app ecosystem. It offers more than 2,000 app integrations. However, for ardent Microsoft users, the seamless integration with Office 365 makes Teams a very appealing option.
Microsoft Teams vs. Slack: Bots
Bots are commonly used in messaging apps to provide support, resolve FAQs, and automate workflows. We assessed both Slackbot and the T-Bot to see which one is more helpful.
Slackbot is Slack’s native bot. It can be accessed from the Direct Messages tab. During our use, we found Slackbot to be very useful. We found ourselves referring to it when trying to figure out how Slack works.
Gradually, we also started to use Slackbot’s other features, such as setting reminders and automating workflows using apps like Trello.
Microsoft Teams no longer offers a native chatbot. Earlier, users could chat with T-bot to resolve their problems, set reminders and automate tasks. Chatbots can still be integrated into Teams using third-party apps or by building custom chatbots.
While this offers some customization to users, a dedicated chatbot like Slackbot is a big miss. Needless to say, Slack wins in this department big-time.
Microsoft Teams vs. Slack: Security and Compliance
With the amount of sensitive and confidential data being shared across enterprise apps, their data storage and management policies and security features are of utmost importance.
However, enforced multi-factor authentication is limited to the upper-tier Microsoft Plans and is not available with Essentials or the free version.
To bolster its security credentials, Slack has obtained several certifications, including SO/IEC 27001, 27017, 27018, and 27701, SOC 2, SOC 3, APEC for Processors, and APEC for Controllers.
It is also compliant with GDPR, which puts to bed most privacy-related concerns. Slack Enterprise grid also offers HIPAA compliance support, which could be very useful for companies doing business in the US.
Microsoft has translated its expertise in building a secure cloud computing ecosystem with Azure to Teams. Team owners can set granular permissions and access controls to protect files and comply with internal regulations.
In addition to the security and encryption features provided by both apps, you can safeguard your online privacy by using a virtual private network.
A VPN encrypts your activity and protects it from any peering eyes online. NordVPN is our top-rated VPN provider. It blends security, speed, and performance at a very reasonable price.
- Excellent protection and a large network of servers
- Nice and pleasing application
- No logs
Which is the Better Enterprise Messaging App?
Overall, it’s difficult to clearly pick a winner between Microsoft Teams and Slack. If you’re a small team that relies on text-based communication and does not use much Microsoft software, Slack should be your top choice.
Conversely, if you’re a larger team that relies heavily on the Office suite, then Teams seems like an ideal choice.
We’d suggest trying the free versions of both and seeing which works best for you!
We’ve answered some of the most common questions about Microsoft Teams and Slack in the section below. If there are any other questions you have, please drop a comment!
It depends on what your requirements are for a collaboration app. If you value file sharing, video, and voice calling, and use the Office productivity suite, then Teams is better than Slack.
However, if you’re a small organization and frequently collaborate with people outside your team, then Slack is a better choice. Here’s our head-to-head comparison of Microsoft Teams vs. Slack.
Yes, Microsoft Teams is safe from a privacy point of view. It encrypts user information and messages. The data safety standards developed by Microsoft for Azure, its cloud service, are applied to Teams as well.
You can further protect your privacy by using a VPN to encrypt your online browsing activity.
Slack has a made concerted effort toward maintaining high standards of security and confidentiality. It has acquired several security certifications and is compliant with the GDPR. Overall, it is a secure and confidential app that’ll keep your team’s message secure.