This article is part of a larger series on Unified Communications.
In the Microsoft Teams vs Slack team collaboration tool debate, differences in the user interface and integrations significantly affect employee productivity and customer experience. Slack is exceptionally user-friendly―you can set it up and onboard team members with little to no learning curve. But it lacks the advanced collaboration and video conferencing features found in Microsoft Teams, providing distinct reasons to choose one over the other.
Based on our comparison, the best use cases for Microsoft Teams vs Slack are as follows:
- Microsoft Teams: Choose Microsoft Teams when you need a virtual workspace, rely heavily on Microsoft productivity apps, or want a low-cost or free unified communications platform with high limits for video conferencing and more collaboration features.
- Slack: Slack is better for your business if you generally host small meetings, need an app that integrates with a lot of non-Microsoft products, and want a simple but powerful messaging platform for team collaboration that doesn’t require a steep learning curve.
Microsoft Teams vs Slack at a Glance
$4 per user, per month*
$6.67 per user, per month**
30-day free trial of Microsoft 365 Business
Standard, Microsoft 365 Business Premium
Up to 90 days free trial for Pro or Business+ plans
Mobile and Desktop Apps
Up to 300 participants
Up to 15 participants
Power Automate for personalized workflows
Workflow Builder for custom processes
24/7 web and phone support for paid plans
24/7 web and email support for paid plans, including priority support for upper tiers
For More Information
*Microsoft pricing is based on the Microsoft Teams Essential plan for up to 50 users with annual prepayment.
**Slack pricing is based on the Slack Pro plan for unlimited users with annual billing, but monthly plans are also available.
Best for Pricing: Microsoft Teams
*Microsoft packages require an annual commitment and monthly plans aren’t available. In March 2022, the Microsoft 365 Business Basic plan will increase to $6 per user, per month, and the Office 365 E3 plan will cost $22 per user.
**Slack pricing is based on yearly prepayment, but monthly billing is also available.
In our Microsoft Teams vs Slack comparison, Microsoft Teams has the edge over Slack because it offers lower prices and a slightly better free plan. The free version of Microsoft Teams lets you search through all your messages, whereas Slack restricts the search to 10,000 messages. Likewise, Microsoft Teams supports screen sharing and hour-long video conferences with 100 people.
In comparison, Slack’s free plan includes one-to-one video meeting, but without screen sharing capabilities. You can integrate up to 10 third-party programs with Slack’s free version, whereas you’ll need the Microsoft 365 Business Basic package (which will cost $6 per user, per month come March 2022) to add integrations.
Microsoft Teams debuted a great plan for small businesses in December 2021 called Microsoft Teams Essentials. It’s geared toward organizations with 50 or fewer paid users and costs just $48 per person, per year.
Upgrading from Teams’ free version to Essentials increases your conferencing limits to 30 hours and 300 participants, adds 24/7 phone and web support, and 10GB of file storage per user. However, you won’t get access to the Office apps in the Business Basic plan, which only costs $2 more (as of March 2022).
Slack’s comparable Pro package costs $80.04 per user, per year with 10GB of file storage and 24/7 support. However, video meetings are limited to 15 participants. But Slack’s Pro package includes integrations, whereas integrations with Microsoft Teams costs $60 annually and increases to $72 per user, per year as of March 2022.
Microsoft Teams users get desktop versions of Microsoft software and webinar features at higher-plan tiers. On the other hand, Slack’s more expensive packages double the cloud storage per user. Although Microsoft Teams offers lower prices for its base plans, it lacks a monthly payment option. Slack could be a better option if you’re not prepared to pay upfront for services.
Best for Video & Audio Conferencing: Microsoft Teams
Microsoft Teams is one of the best video conferencing tools and outshines Slack when it comes to audio and video conferencing. Slack is mainly a channel messaging service and won’t work if you host large, interactive meetings because it only supports 15 participants on its paid plans. In contrast, even Microsoft Teams’ free version allows 100 meeting attendees, increasing to 300 on paid plans.
Screen sharing and polling come with Microsoft Teams’ free package, and paid versions offer features like whiteboarding, breakout rooms, and meeting recordings. Slack doesn’t have breakout rooms or webinar tools, and you’ll need to add third-party software to record or whiteboard during a conference.
In short, if you frequently video conference with large groups, Microsoft Teams is the better platform. You can capture participants’ attention using presentation modes that keep your video on the screen while presenting. The Microsoft 365 Business Standard package also includes webinar reporting, registration pages, and email confirmations, which can be very helpful for lead generation, follow-ups, and nurturing efforts.
However, if 15 or fewer people typically join a video call or if you want to host a spontaneous audio call between up to 50 people, Slack is still a good choice. While more limited than Microsoft Teams, you can integrate various tools to improve small meetings.
Best for Conversation Channels: Microsoft Teams
As some of the best team chat apps, Slack and Microsoft Teams both support one-to-one and group messaging. Organize messages into different sections and follow conversations easily thanks to message threading and formatting options, including italics, bold, and bulleted lists. It’s also simple to keep up with group discussions as both let you mention (@) to tag a user, use emojis to acknowledge messages, and send graphics interchange formats (GIFs).
However, Microsoft Teams stands out because you can add an unlimited number of guests to a team and give them access to multiple Microsoft Teams channels. In contrast, Slack limits guest users to five per paid license for access to a single channel.
Multi-channel guest users on Slack require a paid license, which can be limiting. For instance, you may have a channel for a specific project and another for tips and style guides, but your guest could only access one or the other.
While both platforms offer a search tool, Microsoft’s SharePoint directory automatically creates a file for every Team channel, making content searches easier and more comprehensive than Slack. Plus, Teams serves as a virtual workspace, allowing you to create Teams for different groups and set up as many as 200 channels per Team. While you can add all the users in your company to Slack, the main function is messaging, whereas Microsoft Teams can effectively work as a company intranet.
Best for Integrations: Slack
Although Microsoft Teams has added many integrations over the past year, Slack still offers more than double what’s found on Teams. Slack supports up to 10 integrations on its free plan, whereas Microsoft Teams’ free plan and small business plan (Essentials) don’t connect with third-party tools. Slack also integrates with more business phone systems, including RingCentral and GoTo Connect.
Most integrations offered by Microsoft Teams are also found on Slack. But noticeable integrations are missing from Teams. For example, a search for Google products on Microsoft’s app store only pulls up Google Analytics. Slack connects to Google Drive, Calendar, and Analytics. Plus, the Google Sheets for Workflow Builder is a useful addition that lets Slack users add or update a spreadsheet row or select information from a spreadsheet to share in Slack.
Slack also connects to Microsoft Outlook and OneDrive, and you can even start Teams’ calls from Slack. On the other hand, Microsoft’s native product integrations are perfect for any organization using Microsoft Word, OneDrive, and Excel. With Microsoft Teams, you can also add tabs for third-party integrations to private or group chats and channels, giving your employees one-click access to their most-used programs.
Best for Usability: Slack
From day one, Slack’s user interface has been intuitive for most users. Anyone familiar with instant messaging platforms will adjust quickly to sending Slack messages. As such, the learning curve is minor, although you may want to read up on automation or best practices to get the most out of the platform and your team.
In contrast, the user interface for Microsoft Teams is more compartmentalized with multiple tabs, teams, and channels. For a new Microsoft user, it can be harder to navigate. You’ll also need to spend more time setting up Microsoft Teams and inviting team members. In Slack, you send out an email invite to add a user, whereas in Teams, you’ll also need to add them to your administrative portal.
Slack can also feel more personal than Teams. It provides hundreds of themes that change layout colors, whereas Microsoft stays mostly the same with a light or dark theme. If you need a little extra assistance inside Slack, the Slackbot can handle it. In some ways, it’s like an in-app tutorial, giving you optional tips. Yet, it also reminds you to follow up on a message or tells you how to perform an action, like adding a file.
However, if your team already uses Microsoft products and you don’t mind taking the additional time needed to set up and onboard team members, Teams is the natural choice. It puts all of your Microsoft 365 tools in one place, making it easy to access everything you need for work.
Best for Administration Features: Microsoft Teams
Microsoft 365 was built for enterprises, so it naturally includes many tools for administrators or information technology (IT) teams to manage user access. Your IT team can dig deep into the Microsoft 365 administration center to create custom rules for most types of Microsoft Teams interactions. Most settings are available with all paid Microsoft plans.
In comparison, more in-depth settings on Slack require an Enterprise Grid subscription. Instead of a dedicated administrative portal, Slack has a settings and administration feature inside the app. Although Slack lets you assign member roles and manage platform use, it lacks Microsoft’s granule access-level permissions.
Paid Microsoft Teams subscriptions also feature a unique “Who” bot that’s incredibly helpful. Who shows information about other employees, including who they collaborate with, report to, or if you’ve emailed them. It also lets you search for topic experts. Microsoft’s advanced administrative features and its Who bot can boost your workforce management efforts if your company is larger.
Best Microsoft Teams & Slack Alternatives
Although Slack and Microsoft Teams each supply many collaboration and communication tools, several competitors offer similar feature sets. You may want to consider an alternative if you prefer open-source software, self-managed plans, or a business phone system with channel messaging capabilities.
A few of the best Slack and Microsoft Teams alternatives include:
- Google Workspace: If your team uses Google products, Google Workspace is a better virtual work platform than Microsoft Teams. It puts all your tools in one spot, including messaging, video meetings, and files. Read our Google Workspace vs Microsoft 365 comparison to see which offers the most advantages for your company.
- Cisco Jabber: This is a good solution for companies wanting an on-premise deployment of a unified communications platform with voice and video calls, instant messaging, and desktop sharing.
- Rocket.Chat: If you prefer open-source software and the endless customizations it supports, consider Rocket.Chat. The interface is similar to Slack with organized message threads but offers software as a service (SaaS) and self-managed options.
- Mattermost: According to Mattermost, enterprises can save up to 44% over Microsoft Teams’ total cost of ownership. Like Rocket.Chat, Mattermost offers SaaS and self-managed plans. Learn more, including why both Mattermost and Rocket.Chat made our list of the best team chat apps.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
Can Microsoft Teams be used like Slack?
Yes. Microsoft Teams supports group and one-to-one messaging like Slack. You can pin messages, search them, and easily reply to threaded conversations. Like Slack, Microsoft Teams lets you “like” comments, @mention someone, or send an emoji or GIF.
Is Slack as secure as Microsoft Teams?
Slack and Microsoft Teams both provide end-to-end data encryption for messages, files, and data. Both also support two-factor authentication (2FA). However, Microsoft Teams allows for more advanced user and device management, making it slightly more secure than Slack.
Which is better for startups, Slack or Microsoft Teams?
Although Microsoft Teams has more daily active users, research shows that startups overwhelmingly prefer Slack. Typically, larger organizations using the Microsoft ecosystem of products turn to Teams. In contrast, startups find the free or paid Slack plans outperform email for everyday communication and don’t require a commitment to one software system over another.
How We Evaluated Microsoft Teams vs Slack
Microsoft Teams and Slack compete for the same customers and offer many of the same features, including file sharing, searchable messages, and workflow tools. Yet differences exist that could make one or the other a better option for your business. We compared Slack vs Microsoft Teams side-by-side to uncover differences and determine which one is a better fit for certain use cases.
Here’s a complete breakdown of these factors:
25% of Overall Score
We reviewed the cost of each plan tier, including the availability of annual or volume-based discounts. In addition, we gave points for free versions and free trials.
30% of Overall Score
We examined features offered on free and paid plans, like group and one-to-one messaging, audio and video conferencing capabilities, and integrations. We also checked out the mobile, desktop, and web apps.
20% of Overall Score
We used both platforms and rated them for usability based on the setup and onboarding process, inviting new users, and collaborating within the app. Plus, we looked at chatbots and how they improved user experience.
25% of Overall Score
We evaluated Microsoft Teams vs Slack for features that make it easy to work together remotely, along with any limits that could make one platform stand out over the other.
When it comes to Slack vs Microsoft Teams, there are more variations in video conferencing capabilities but fewer differences for messaging and chat features. As such, your decision may come down to personal preference or based on which platform supports your existing software tools and workflows. If you’re already using Microsoft 365 products, take a look at Teams. But if you aren’t familiar with them, check out Slack.