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Slack vs Microsoft Teams: Which is best for YOU?

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Business often weight up Slack vs Microsoft Teams - but they could be using both interoperably

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Slack vs Microsoft Teams: Which is best for YOU?

Slack vs Microsoft Teams

Comparing Slack vs Microsoft Teams is one of the biggest IT decisions you’ll make this year. And actually, for the next 10 years.

In this post, we document the following to help you get the answers to these questions and find out if Slack or Microsoft Teams (or both) is best for your business.

  1. What is the difference between Slack and Microsoft Teams?
  2. Slack vs Microsoft Teams pricing
  3. Interfaces available in Slack and Microsoft Teams
  4. Audio and video conferencing in Slack and Microsoft Teams
  5. Using existing software with Slack and Microsoft Teams
  6. Inviting users to Slack and Microsoft Teams

Is Slack better than Teams?

Slack is better than Teams for some users. But Teams is better than Slack for some users.

In over 60% of cases, both apps are used in the same business.

While personal preference and company direction come into deciding whether Slack is better than Teams (or vice versa), this article aims to help you make your own decision.

We’ll start by highlighting the difference between Slack and Microsoft Teams.

What is the difference between Slack and Microsoft Teams?

If you ask ten different people, you’ll get ten different answers.

Slack and Microsoft Teams are similar tools so finding the difference looks like arduous work on the face of it.

Sure, they both offer a way for people to collaborate and communicate. But, there are some subtle and some glaring differences between Slack and Microsoft Teams.

For many companies, Slack is easier to administer. Slack also comes with a wider selection of integrations and add-ons than Teams. 

Microsoft offers things like direct routing with Teams for business voice. Microsoft Teams also integrates with the Microsoft 365 productivity suite.

Let’s look at some of the main differences between the basic features of Slack and Microsoft Teams.

FeatureSlackMicrosoft Teams
Message history limits10,000 messages in the free plan. 
Unlimited in Plus or Standard. 
Unlimited in all plans.
Audio/video callsUnlimited 1:1 voice or video in the free plan. Conference calls for up to 15 people in paid plans. 
External calling via AWS.
Unlimited online calls and meetings.
External calling is available via Microsoft Voice or Direct routing. Voice and video support up to 250 people in Microsoft Teams meetings
Integrations800+ apps are available. Maximum of 10 allowed in the free plan.600+ apps are available
File storage limit (per user)Free: 5GB 
Standard: 10GB
Plus: 20GB
Free: 2GB
Paid: 1TB per organization. 
Screen and file sharingAvailable in all free and paid plans. Available in all free and paid plans. 
Message threadingYesYes
Group chatsYesYes
Private messagingYesYes
Quick commands/ commands available/ commands available
Content sharing and editingEasily share files with drag-and-drop functionality. No in-app editing. Share files directly from the Microsoft 365 tools and edit them in Teams. 
Mobile, web, and desktop versionsYesYes
Data protection Encryption for files, messages, and data. Access to 2-factor authentication.Encryption for files, messages, and data. Data loss prevention, Microsoft admin controls, 2-factor authentication. 

As you can see, there’s a lot to compare. Both Slack and Microsoft have been keen to point out how different each other’s apps are.

Which sometimes results in colorful news headlines.

History of Slack vs Microsoft Teams

If you’re unfamiliar with the entire Slack and Teams history, here’s a recap of what’s happened so far:

History of Slack vs Microsoft Teams
  • Slack launches in August 2013; originally an internal tool for Slack CEO, Stewart Butterfield’s, company at the time, Glitch. 
  • Slack gains quite a reputation with startups and developers looking for a messenger tool with a friendly user interface.
  • Microsoft Teams launches in March 2017 as the next generation of Microsoft Lync and Skype for Business.
  • Slack posts an open letter in the New York Times congratulating Microsoft on its launch, pointing out some useful tips to create a collaboration platform, and stressing how hard it is to get creation of such a tool correct.
  • Existing Office 365 and Skype for Business customers become the natural first users of Teams and ensure rapid penetration of an existing customer base.
  • Later in 2017, Slack unveils shared channels so two companies can chat via Slack.
  • In 2019, Slack made public its daily active user count of 12 million.
  • Later that year, Microsoft Teams makes public its daily active user count of 13 million.
  • In the same year, Slack announces interoperability with Microsoft Outlook and Microsoft OneDrive – allowing users to connect their Outlook calendar, send email to channels, preview entire PowerPoint and Word files all within Slack. 
  • In April 2020, the Slack and Teams calling integration gets announced—allowing Teams calls to begin in Slack (without switching apps). A second move recognizing users of both platforms within businesses.
  • In June 2020, Slack Connect gets announced as a method to create shared channels with up to 20 different organizations.
  • In July 2020, Slack files an antitrust complaint against Microsoft
  • Microsoft unveils Teams Connect to provide shared channel functionality in its own app.
  • Slack keeps quiet about its daily active user count while Microsoft publishes several major milestones. The latest being 145 million as of April 2021.

Pricing: Slack vs Microsoft Teams

Slack and Microsoft Teams both have free versions available, however, paid plans offer more functionality.

The table below documents some examples of these.

 FreePaid
SlackSearch through up to 10,000 messages
Up to 10 integrations with other tools
1:1 video calling
5GB storage capacity
Unlimited users
Screen sharing
Unlimited search for all information
Slack shared channels
Unlimited integrations
Workflow builder
SSO
Auto-provisioning and de-provisioning
HIPAA support and e-discovery
Corporate exports

Group video conferencing
Up to 20GB of storage per user
Microsoft Teams300 users per organization
1GB storage per user
10 GB shared storage
Unlimited chat messages and search
Background blur and meeting backgrounds
Calling and group audio/video meetings
Screen sharing
Microsoft 365 integrations and apps 
Unlimited with Enterprise license
1TB of storage per user
Scheduled meetings
Recordings
Online and video meetings for up to 250 people

Online events for up to 10,000 people
Unlimited chat and search
Microsoft 365 subscriptions and apps

Microsoft Teams paid plans come as part of the Microsoft 365 productivity suite.

You’ll need either a Business Premium or Essentials plan for Microsoft 365.

Microsoft Teams pricing

Below, we outline the pricing options available for Microsoft Teams:

Microsoft Teams Free

  • 300 users per organization
  • 1GB storage per user
  • 10 GB shared storage
  • Unlimited chat messages and search
  • Background blur and virtual backgrounds
  • 1:1 Calling and group audio/video meetings
  • Screen sharing
  • Office 365 integrations and apps

Microsoft 365 Business Essentials ($5 per user/month)

  • Unlimited search and chat
  • Online video callings and meetings
  • Personal file and team storage
  • Up to 500k users
  • Screen Sharing
  • Background blur and virtual backgrounds
  • Guest access
  • Co-authoring
  • Integration access
  • Encryption at rest and in-transit

Microsoft 365 Business Standard ($12.50 per user/month)

  • All features of free
  • 50GB email inbox
  • Access to web versions of Microsoft 365 apps
  • Store and share files with up to 1TB of data
  • Host online meetings with conferencing for up to 250 users
  • Around-the-clock support 

Microsoft 365 E3 ($20 per user/month)

  • All features of free
  • Cloud-based suite
  • Desktop versions of Microsoft 365 apps
  • Host email with custom domain and mailbox
  • Cover up to five PCs/Macs per user
  • eDiscovery and mailbox hold

Slack pricing

Like Microsoft Teams, Slack offers many different pricing tiers:

Slack Free

  • 10k of searchable messages
  • 10 integrations or apps
  • Two-factor authentication
  • #General posting permissions
  • One-to-one voice and video
  • Channel suggestions
  • Search messages and files
  • Basic analytics
  • 5GB of storage per workspace.

Slack Standard ($6.67 per user/month)

  • Everything in free
  • Unlimited searchable messages
  • Unlimited integrations
  • Single and multi-channel guests
  • Shared channels
  • Manage member names and email addresses
  • G Suite SSO
  • Custom message and file retention
  • User groups
  • Voice and video for up to 15 users
  • Priority support

Slack Plus ($12.50 per user/month)

  • Everything in Standard
  • SAML-based SSO
  • Corporate export
  • Permissions for any channel
  • Workflow builder
  • Complete analytics
  • 20GB of storage per user
  • 24/7 support
  • 99.99% uptime guarantee

Slack vs Microsoft Teams: Interface

At first glance, Slack and Microsoft Teams have a similar interface. But, if you ask anyone who uses both on a regular basis, they will tell you these are completely different.

On both, you have a vertical left-hand panel for contacts, channels, and teams. The right-hand larger panel is where you see your conversations.

Here is the Slack interface below.

Slack interface

On the left, Microsoft has an extra panel with features like Files, Meetings, and Activity.

Microsoft Teams interface

Both Slack and Microsoft Teams have a search function. With Slack and Microsoft Teams you can send text, files, and emojis or gifs to contacts.  

Slack has more customization options. You can change the color of your Slack workspace. Microsoft only has three themes. 

Both Slack and Microsoft Teams have one-on-one and group messaging. You click a contact in the left-hand bar to start a conversation. Both tools also support threaded messaging

With Slack and Microsoft Teams you can edit, delete, and pin messages. There’s also the option to @mention someone and share files. Microsoft Teams has more advanced formatting options. With Microsoft Teams you can change font color, create bullet lists, and bold or italic words. 

You can “like” someone’s message and leave emoji reactions on Slack and Teams content. You can also set reminders on Slack messages. Slack users can add message actions or mark messages as unread. 

When messaging is not enough, the next level of conversation is naturally audio or video conferencing.

Slack vs Microsoft Teams: Audio and Video Conferencing

Meetings in Slack

Slack’s free plan offers unlimited one-to-one calls. If you upgrade to a paid plan, you can support up to 15 people in a conference. 

To start a call in Slack:

  • Open your chosen channel or direct message
  • Click on the (i) icon in the top right
  • Select Call then Start call

If you’re in a channel, Slack will post a message allowing people to join. If you have a paid account, you can click the camera icon to switch to video. There’s also an option to share a screen once the call starts. 

Typing /call in your DM or channel can also start a call. 

If you want to invite other people to a call click the invite icon in the top left of the screen. Type a name into the search bar to find who you want to add. You can also click Copy Link to get a link to your conversation. 

To Join a Slack call click Join when your invitation pops up. Use the camera icon to switch on your camera. 

Slack call

Remember that if you want to record a call with Slack you need a third-party app

You can look for recording options on the Slack marketplace.

Meeting in Microsoft Teams

To start a call in Microsoft Teams go to your chat list and click New chat to start a conversation. You can type the name of the person you want to call into the field. Then click Video or Audio call in the top right to start the discussion. 

Once the call opens, you can turn your camera on or off. There’s also the option to meet now or schedule a meeting. Clicking meet now starts the conversation immediately. Clicking schedule a meeting will take you to a calendar. 

Microsoft Teams meeting scheduling

Microsoft customers can also start meetings from their Outlook calendar. The Outlook calendar syncs with Teams. 

Microsoft also gives users support for up to 250 people in a conference. You can even record calls with Teams without a third-party app. To record click the three dots for more options. Scroll down and click Start recording. Microsoft will inform users that you’re recording.

When you’re done go back into more options and click Stop recording. 

With a link to your meeting, you can add guests to a call from outside of your organization. There’s also the option to blur your Microsoft Teams background or add a virtual background. 

Click on the three dots under your icon in the video call. Tap Show background effects. Here you’ll see the blur option and your background options. Click an image then Apply. 

To share a screen on Microsoft Teams click on the icon of a screen with an arrow pointing up.

Slack vs Microsoft Teams: Inviting users

Inviting people to Slack is simple. At the end of your registration process, the app will offer to invite people to your workspace. You can also use the Invite people to [Name] option when you click your workspace name. 

Add the email address of the person you want to add to Slack. Click add many at once to add multiple people. If you want to invite a guest, click Invite people to [Name]. Then:

  • Tap multi-channel or single-channel guests
  • Enter the guest’s email address
  • Choose the channels you want to invite the guest too
  • Add a time limit to their access
  • Click Invite Guests 

To connect with a different company using Slack, you can use Shared Channels.

In your Slack sidebar click on the Shared Channels tab. Click the + button to add a new channel. Then:

  • Choose who you want to access the share channel from your team. 
  • Give the channel a name. 
  • Enter the email address of the other company’s admin. 
  • Add the Slack URL of the workspace
  • Click Create and Invite. 

In Microsoft Teams, to add a member click your team name then More options. Click Add member and start typing a name. It’s also possible to add guests by typing email addresses. 

If you want to add someone from an external app, or a different Microsoft Teams instance to your team, there’s no native option at the moment.

But, at Microsoft Ignite in March 2021, Microsoft announced it will be introducing Teams Connect later in the year.

If you can’t wait until then, you can connect with external contacts using Mio

A universal channel allows you to stay in Microsoft Teams while external contacts use different apps or their own Microsoft Teams instance. You can connect without any need for guest accounts.

Chat with Microsoft Teams and Slack users without leaving Cisco Webex Teams

Can Microsoft Teams replace Slack?

Business owners want to know if Microsoft Teams will replace Slack—or buy them.

In November 2020, Salesforce announced its intention to acquire Slack. This put to bed any rumors that Microsoft was lining up a takeover of its collaboration rival.

Salesforce is a CRM and sales management tool. Microsoft, of course, has Dynamics as its flagship customer relationship management platform. Getting into bed with each other seems further away than ever before.

Since the announcement, ServiceNow has announced its intention to remove Slack from its collaboration stack due to its strategic alliance with Microsoft.

In this case, the answer is yes Microsoft Teams is going to replace Slack at ServiceNow.

Migrating from Slack to Teams seems an extreme reaction for businesses without genuine cause. A strategic alliance is one thing. And if your business uses apps like SharePoint or OneDrive all day, that’s another good reason.

So starting down a migration path to Teams in some business is the right thing to do. But do bear in mind all your Slack users you might upset. And all your teams who’ve never used Microsoft Teams before will need to start from scratch.

While the two apps are defined as collaboration tools, remember they are not like for like.

The alternative to migrating from one to the other is to integrate Slack and Teams.

Stop comparing Slack vs Microsoft Teams and use Mio

It’s hard to chat with freelancers, contractors, and suppliers when you’re not on the same platform.

When this is the case, it becomes extremely unproductive to move out of your app to accommodate your guest.

Or even worse, end up resorting to email like it’s the 90s. (Okay, email has a purpose but you get the point).

That’s why Mio has created universal channels for Microsoft Teams with Slack.

You can stay in Teams and send messages to your contractors, suppliers, or clients that use Slack.

They stay in their platform too and Mio translates the messages across platform.

And it’s not just messages that are supported! GIFs, emojis, channels, DMs, and message edits/deletes are all supported.

Stay in Slack and chat with Microsoft Teams and Webex Teams users

If this sounds like something you need, try your first universal channel for free here.

Try it for free
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