- Microsoft is banning its employees from using Slack, according to an internal list of "prohibited and discouraged" technology, reports GeekWire.
- Slack falls under Microsoft's "prohibited" category because the company has concerns around IT security and a lack of "required controls to protect Microsoft intellectual Property," according to Microsoft's reasons on the list. Competition to Microsoft Teams is also lightly mentioned and the company acknowledged Slack's Enterprise Grid version is compliant with Microsoft's security standards.
- Other prohibited technologies include Grammarly and Kaspersky products. The list of "discouraged" technologies include Amazon Web Services, Google Docs and Microsoft-owned GitHub. Microsoft declined to comment.
Slack made its public debut last week almost a year after Microsoft officially declared the company as an Office competitor in its 10-K report. Slack says it felt "honored" by the mention, Ilan Frank, Slack's head of enterprise product, told CIO Dive last year.
Microsoft's decision to ban Slack's use internally is not solely based on competition. There is a history of employees adopting tools unsanctioned by IT, even at Microsoft.
"The Bring Your Own Anything movement is alive and well," said Art Schoeller, VP, principal analyst at Forrester, in an email to CIO Dive.
Enterprises have long had issues with employees self-remedying workplace productivity woes with the use of AOL, Yahoo and MSN instant messenger. Despite the competitive nature of the two companies, "we are overreacting to this 'ban' of consumer grade Slack," said Schoeller.
Tools that can't promise protection of intellectual property will always be restricted by enterprises, no matter the industry, so "when it comes to software firms restricting a competitor it makes perfect sense," he said.
Unlike Microsoft, Slack's platform is built on the promise of integrations, where Microsoft Teams is championed as a tool in the Office 365 bundle. In April Slack debuted a slew of Office 365 integrations, though instead of working with Microsoft, the company used Microsoft's available APIs to build them, according to the GeekWire report.
Microsoft's reach and existing Office 365 customer base is Slack's greatest threat. The Office bundle makes Microsoft Teams more or less free from further purchase, unlike Slack's Enterprise Grid version. It's the "classic Microsoft bundling strategy," said Schoeller.
Microsoft's ban on Slack "will have no influence whatsoever" on customers' decisions to pursue either company's collaboration software, he said. Customers are already aware of the differences between free versions of Slack's software, the paid Enterprise Grid version, and the "ostensibly free" Microsoft Teams offering through Office.