Microsoft Teams (Teams for short) and Slack are two popular workplace collaboration tools/chat apps. Which is the right tool for your team? To help you decide, we’ve compared Microsoft Teams vs. Slack based on their pros and cons, functionality, user interface (UI), and more.
Let’s start with an overview of what Slack and Teams have in common.
Teams and Slack offer lots of similar features, including the ability to send messages to your entire organization, certain people outside your organization, channels, private channels, and individuals. Even at the free level, both offer:
- Unlimited messages
- Message search
- File sharing
- Person-to-person voice and video calls
- Web and mobile apps
- Apps for Mac, PC and Linux
- Two-factor authentication
In terms of popularity, Teams is the winner, with 19% of U.S workers using it in 2020. Microsoft is popular among workers in enterprise companies and government organizations. Slack is more popular with younger, more tech-savvy workers at startups. In 2020, 7% of employees in the U.S. used Slack.
Now let’s talk about where Teams and Slack differ.
When Kinsta compared Slack’s UI to Teams, they found Slack to offer a slicker experience.
“Slack’s user interface is sleek and has become the industry standard,” they wrote. “Slack has doubled down on creating a natural onboarding process, with a step-by-step tutorial for new users.” They say Teams has largely followed Slack’s lead and has a similar UI, minus Slack’s helpful step-by-step interactive onboarding tutorial.
Digital Trends found Slack’s UI to be more customizable. While both collaboration platforms offer both light and dark modes, Slack allows users to choose a sidebar color and create custom themes. Teams just offers a third option: high-contrast.
Free plan goodies
Slack has no limit on the number of users at the free level. Microsoft 365 Business Basic (which includes Teams) has a 300-user limit for $5/user/month, when billed annually. To add up to 500,000 users to Teams, you can purchase Office 365 E3 for $20/user/month when billed annually. This will also net you the ability to host online events with up to 10,000 participants. Plus, no more limits on the number or size of file attachments in chat or personal cloud storage.
Slack 1:1 voice and video calls are included in Slack’s free plan. Group video meetings with up to 15 simultaneous callers require upgrading to a paid plan.
“Teams has far superior web conferencing capabilities,” Digital Trends writes. “On most tiers, including the free version (for now), you can host video conferencing meetings with up to 300 people. But it’s worth noting that the free version only offers that 300-person maximum until “further specified.”
The Office 365 E3 tier offers a cap of 10,000 participants. Teams also offers the ability to record meetings in its premium tiers (which Slack does not) and provides screen sharing for all tiers (which Slack only has in premium tiers). This is a boon for team-oriented or larger companies where this type of conferencing is common.”
Shortcuts, bots, and productivity hacks
“Slack is a productivity innovator, with shortcuts and productivity hacks for just about everything,” Kinsta writes. “Even Slack’s web app has a comprehensive list of keyboard shortcuts you can use to boost your productivity.”
Slack also offers Slackbot, which can offer pre-set reminders and answer questions about how to use Slack. The app integrates with popular task management apps like Trello and Pipefy. This allows Slackbot to answer questions about deadlines and offer project updates automatically.
Kinsta found Teams’ productivity-boosting shortcuts less organized and intuitively useful compared with Slack. “We miss editing a recent message with a single key, easily marking messages as unread, and similar that can speed up our work,” they write.
Teams offers Microsoft’s in-house Who bot in paid plans that will tell you about your teammate’s specialties, manager, and department. There are also multiple third-party chatbots you can use for specific tasks.
Slack offers advanced search. “For example, you can find messages by emoji with the ‘has:’ search parameter,” Kinsta writes. “This is great if your team uses a specific emoji to identify closed deals or priority messages).” The big limitation is you can only see/search 10,000 messages of history at the free level. Unlimited search is $6.67/user/month when billed annually.
Teams has slightly more advanced search functionality, including the ability to filter your search results by date. “While Slack's universal search is very powerful, its pinning capabilities can't quite match the Microsoft SharePoint file mapping for its ability to easily locate core or evergreen content your team needs to access regularly,” PCMag writes.
Slack offers 5GB of storage at the free level. The first-tier paid plan bumps you up to 10GB storage/user. The Plus plan offers 20GB per user and costs $12.50/user/month when billed annually. And for teams with big storage needs, there’s the Enterprise Grid plan. With that you get 1TB/user, but you have to contact Slack for pricing.
Teams’ free plan comes with 2GB of storage/user and 10GB of shared storage. Microsoft 365 Business Basic increases the storage to 10GB per license for $5/user/month when billed annually.
Free Slack users can access up to 10 app integrations. Upgrading to any paid plan gets you unlimited access to Slack’s 2,200+ apps in their directory. “If you use another productivity app at work, there’s a very good chance it’s compatible with Slack,” Digital Trends writes.
We should also note that Slack integrates with Clockwise. Our integration syncs your availability to your Slack status automatically, gives you a heads-up about what your day looks like, and automatically turns on Do Not Disturb when you’re unavailable.
Teams offers 250+ apps at the free level. Teams’ primary integration is with Microsoft 365. If you upgrade to any paid plan, you get OneDrive, the ability to record your meetings, and customer support. If you’re a Word, Excel, Publisher, or Exchange fan, “This may be the most important consideration for businesses that use Microsoft 365,” Digital Trends writes.
The Slack Android app has a 4.3-star rating in the Google Play store and the iOS app has a 4.0 rating in the App Store. The Teams Android and iOS apps have a 4.2 and 4.8 rating on the Google Play and App Stores, respectively. In both cases users complained about bugs, slowness, lack of functionality, and the mobile UI.
Slack and Microsoft both offer high-quality collaboration app experiences. Both provide tons of great functionality, even at the free level, including unlimited messages, message search, file sharing, video calling, and more.
When it comes to Microsoft Teams vs Slack, we have to give Slack the edge if your team is on GSuite. Connecting Slack with Clockwise means your teammates can know whether you’re in a meeting, outside of working hours, or heads-down on a project without having to ping them.
But if you’re not on GSuite or can’t use Clockwise, which tool is best for you will depend on the needs of your organization.
Slack wins when it comes to:
- Ease of use and onboarding
- Shortcuts and productivity hacks
- Supporting more than 300 users at the free level
- Integrations with an extremely wide variety of apps
- Storage at the free level
Teams wins when it comes to:
- Integrating with Office 365
- Search functionality
- Storage at the paid levels
- Mobile apps
Next up, we compare Teams vs Zoom.