Microsoft Teams is now available in a free version for up to 300 people, ideal for freelancers or small businesses, according to a company announcement. Microsoft introduced Teams, its communication platform, in November 2016, and it was only available through an Office 365 subscription. The free subscription puts it in direct competition with Slack.
It includes unlimited chat messages, built-in audio and video calling, 10 GB for team file storage with 2 GB more for individual storage and unlimited app integrations with more than 140 business apps like Adobe, Evernote and Trello.
Microsoft also announced capabilities to allow users of Microsoft 365 to create live and on-demand events with AI-powered services including facial recognition, speech-to-text transcription and closed captions.
The collaboration market was born in the age of social media. As communication became more accessible for employees outside of work, they began to use tools similar to social media experiences in the workplace.
By 2021, the market will be worth nearly $50 billion, and while Microsoft is the current leader, Workplace by Facebook and Google Hangouts are edging closer to the top spot.
Slack is often credited as a pioneer of the market, but despite its launch about two years before Teams, Microsoft's product dominates the market. More than 200,000 organizations internationally use Teams in 181 marketplaces, according to the company.
But Teams has Workplace by Facebook hot on its tail. For example, in May, Workplace announced more than 50 SaaS integrations which would allow users to summon enterprise software in company groups or conversations.
Prior to this announcement, Teams was structured in a way that companies were not able to upgrade from a free version, therefore limiting its appeal and accessibility to entities without Office 365. But the free Teams in Microsoft 365 gives organizations of any size the capabilities of enterprise software including storage, security and compliance, according to the announcement.