The gloves are coming off for  Microsoft as it tries to defend its title as businesses' software champion.

The company announced Thursday that it is launching a free version of Teams, its workplace chat tool and rival to Slack. The software previously was available only as part of Microsoft's Office business suite. 

Businesses will be able to sign up their first 300 employees on Teams for free. The tool--which is available in 40 languages--includes integrations with Office and lets you link more than 140 different apps, including Evernote and Trello, with your account.

In addition to functions like group video chat and voice calling, Teams gives each user 2GB of free storage and an additional 10GB that's shared between all members of the organization.

Unlike Slack, the free version of Microsoft Teams will not limit the amount of messages you can send, or restrict the app's search function. You will also be able to invite non-employees to join a group hosted on your workspace and control which groups they are able to see.  

Upon reaching 300 users, businesses will be prompted to upgrade to the paid version, which starts at $5 per user, per month. Premium features include 1TB of storage per user, meeting recordings, multi-factor authentication, and enhanced security measures. 

While Microsoft doesn't release individual user numbers, last spring it said Teams was used by 200,000 organizations in 181 markets and 39 languages. Slack has about 8 million daily active users, 3 million of which are paid subscribers, according to TechCrunch.

Published on: Jul 12, 2018