The chat service you use at work may soon be changing. Microsoft is making its Teams business-chat app available for free to entice small and medium-size businesses to try it out. The free tier will allow up to 300 people to take advantage of many of the paid-for service features, including searching back through messages, in-line translation, audio and video chat, the ability to work with other apps, 10 gigabytes of shared storage and 2 gigabytes of personal storage per person. Microsoft said people can start signing up for the new, free version starting Thursday. Microsoft’s move to offer Teams for free nearly two years after its launch may seem like a forehead slapping omission, especially since its main competitor, Slack, already offers a free version of its service. That’s part of what makes Microsoft’s move noteworthy. While chat outside the business world has coalesced around services like Apple’s iMessage, Google’s Hangouts, Microsoft’s Skype and Facebook’s Instagram, Messenger and WhatsApp, the business world has only begun to discover chat apps in the last few years. Email is still the most popular form of communication among employees, according to surveys by Technalysis Research. Voice calls and texting rank second and third, followed by instant messaging, which represents just 8 percent of communications among employees. With so few companies using the new business chat apps, Bob O’Donnell, president of Technalysis Research, said that both Slack and Microsoft have plenty of people to win over. “While there is competition, they’re selling to different businesses,” he… [Read full story]
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