We Compared The Web Versions Of Slack, Teams, and Webex
With laptop and PC capacity at a premium, it’s no wonder the leaders in the collaboration space are turning to web browser versions.
But the question we’re answering today is…are they any good?
In this article, we compare the web browser versions of Slack, Microsoft Teams, and Webex.
While we don’t expect to decide on a winner (everyone has bespoke needs), we’re testing for four key things:
- Ease of use: is the web experience as good as the desktop app?
- Integrations: can you use your favorite apps without needing to download the desktop?
- Admin: can you perform administrative tasks and change ample settings?
- Guest collaboration: is there any difference when collaborating with other orgs?
We’ll also test the basic essentials like calling, meetings, and messaging.
On with the show!
1 – Slack web browser evaluation
To log into the Slack web app, head to https://slack.com/intl/en-gb/workspace-signin and enter your workspace URL.
You can find this by clicking the drop-down in the top left-hand corner of your desktop app.
Log in using your email address and password or with your company’s single sign-on system.
If you have the Slack desktop app installed, your browser will try to open this. Instead, click use Slack in browser.
When you open the Slack web app for the first time, you’ll see it looks identical to the desktop app.
In fact, the only difference to the naked eye is that there is room for more channels, DMs, or apps, on the left-hand menu. It’s not such a big issue as you can scroll down.
For users who have a long list of channels, DMs, and apps, maybe it’s time to declutter that menu bar, anyway? Consider leaving or archiving channels you no longer participate in. Close DMs that you used for one-time interactions.
It’s always a good idea to sanitize your workspace every month or so.
You may also like: Slack Best Practices: For Those Using It More Than Ever
Ease of use
Navigating around the Slack web app is just like using the desktop app.
You have access to your Slack threads, notifications, apps, and messages, and can flip between them as seamlessly as the desktop app.
Uploading files, sharing links, and even starting Slack Huddles are exactly the same as on the desktop app.
The first time you start a Huddle or make a call using the Slack web app, you’ll be asked to allow microphone access in your browser.
The only downside to using the Slack web app, which is true of all these apps, is that you can accidentally click the close button and have to open it up.
With context switching rife in the workplace already, a prompt to ask if you’re sure wouldn’t go amiss here. That said, everyone would probably turn it off.
Sanketee Kher, a freelance content writer, points out that when using multiple Slack workspaces, you face the issue of having to use the Switch workspace option, which takes longer than simply clicking your other workspace on the desktop app.
A workaround for this is to have each workspace open in a separate browser tab.
There are over 2,300 Slack integrations in the app directory. Its capability to bring third-party apps has been a large part of Slack’s success to date.
So it’s refreshing to see that you can still access, add new, or manage existing apps within the web browser.
You get access to existing apps on the bottom left-hand side just like the desktop app.
If you need to add a new app, clicking Add app opens the App Directory in the main interface just like the desktop app.
The only difference is, when you work your way through adding a new app, you’re asked if you want to open the app in the desktop app. Just like first-time login, click continue in browser.
Changing any user preferences via the Slack web app is identical to the desktop app.
For workspace-wide changes, like custom emojis, Slackbot, or channel prefixes, the desktop app actually redirects you to a web page. So there’s no difference here either.
The experience in the Slack web browser is the same as the desktop app.
You can see Connections in the left-hand menu bar denoting people or channels outside your organization.
You may also like: The Importance Of Slack Connect For Intercompany Collaboration
2 – Microsoft Teams web browser evaluation
To log in to the Teams web app, head to https://teams.microsoft.com/ and enter your credentials. If prompted to download the desktop app, choose Use wep app instead.
This will take you to the web version of your tenant that looks just like the desktop app.
In the bottom left-hand corner, you have a down arrow that lets you download the Teams desktop app if you so need to.
Ease of use
When you’re signed into the Teams web app, moving around for day-to-day use is simple.
The left-hand menu bar is identical to the desktop version and your messaging options at the bottom are the same too. For general use, all the most-used Microsoft Teams features are available.
Within the Chat, Teams, Calendar Calls, Apps, and Files menus, you get the same access as the desktop app.
Your activity feed is the same too and includes notifications from both web and desktop apps.
When joining or starting a Microsoft Teams meeting, it is much the same. Your calendar appears identical to the desktop app and a new meeting has all the same options.
You also retain the ability to send yourself a Teams message.
If you need to install new Microsoft Teams integrations, click the … menu to launch the app directory within the same browser tab.
As long as you have the relevant permissions, you can add and manage third-party integrations just like you can on the desktop app.
While there may be some exceptions to how you use them, the majority of line of business apps work as they do in the desktop app. See how the Trello app is identical to the web app. You wouldn’t even know where I took this screenshot from.
The majority of your org-wide Teams admin tasks are carried out in the Teams Admin Center.
To access this, go to https://admin.teams.microsoft.com/ and navigate to your desired setting.
For personal settings, you have access to general settings by clicking your avatar in the top right-hand corner of the Teams web app and choosing Manage account.
Here, you have the same access to change personal preferences like theme, language, and Teams notifications.
When Microsoft introduced Teams Connect in 2022, it added a new way for external contacts who use Teams to chat with their clients.
While there has long been a problem switching between Teams tenants, this brought a welcome resolve. For those businesses using Teams Connect, or even the older tenant switching method, these work the same way as in the desktop app.
As you see in the screenshot above, I am an external user and have access to call or meet on a tenant that is not in my organization.
Messaging remains the same as the desktop experience. Though guest access restrictions vary based on your organization’s permissions.
You may also like: Microsoft Teams Group Chats vs Channels
3 – Webex web browser evaluation
To start using Webex via a browser, head to https://web.webex.com/ and sign in using your credentials.
When you log in, you’ll notice an immediate but subtle difference between the web app and the desktop app. You are presented with a blue ribbon at the top of the web app, prompting you to download the desktop app. You can close this by clicking the cross in the right-hand corner.
Other than this, you lose the Personal Insights option and the Apps option from the left-hand menu. These shortcuts are only accessible via the desktop app.
The Apps button redirects to https://apphub.webex.com/ anyway so you can access this here.
On the desktop app, you get a pop-up box displaying any new updates to the app. This doesn’t happen in the web app.
Ease of use
Navigating around the Webex web app is identical to the desktop app. You have the same access to Spaces and Direct Messages. You can view your Teams, make calls, and schedule or join Webex meetings.
Inside your Spaces and Teams, moving around is the same.
Everything in the message interface remains the same. You still have emojis, GIFs, and can upload files.
The only difference is along the header menu. In the web version, you don’t have the Apps option as you do in the desktop app. This brings us only nicely to the integration section.
Like Slack and Teams further up in this post, there are a plethora of Webex integrations at your disposal.
When you add a new app to Webex, you’re taken to the online web app hub. So, there’s no difference in the experience once you’ve navigated here. To install the new app, click Add Bot and choose which Space or Direct Message you wish to add it to.
After selecting where to add the app, you can use it on both the desktop and browser app.
All admin activities are taken care of in the Webex Control Hub.
Nominated admins can access this by logging in via a web browser only.
Webex has always been open to guests by embracing open federation. If you look at the history of message interoperability, you’ll see Jabber (the incumbent to Webex) was built on XMPP, an open and boundaryless communications protocol.
When federation is enabled in Webex, both the desktop and browser apps perform the same way.
Notice the External participants text in the bottom right-hand corner of the screenshot below.
This, and the different email address in the name bar, denote your contact is not from within your organization.
The messaging and meeting experience remains the same on both desktop and web apps.
You may also like: 12 Webex Messaging Tips And Tricks You Can Steal
When you prefer to use the web app version of these major collaboration apps, or when you have no other choice, there is minimal change to interfaces and ease of use.
For larger tasks, and maybe some niche habits you’ve picked up, it can be a little tricky to stop your fingers from functioning on autopilot. But, in the main, all these web apps put it up to their desktop counterparts.