Microsoft or Slack? Here's What You Need to Know

Speedy, clever, easy, and progressive… these are hardly the words used to describe Microsoft over the past decade. Granted, the behemoth has managed to maintain its dominance in some areas with productivity programs like Excel, PowerPoint, Word, and Outlook.

But let’s face it, Microsoft has hardly been setting the pace for innovation. That job has been left to startups like Slack.

What is Slack?

Slack is a collaboration and communication platform loved by the tech world and other startups like itself. It’s cute, it’s definitely fun to use, and it works… really well.

Teams all over the world, who work in places like the U.S. State Department, Spotify, Stripe, and NASA, use Slack. It’s practically required to have a Slack account in the tech world and with startups, and now it’s making inroads into small and medium-sized business enterprises (SME’s).

A cross between an instant messenger tool and a team collaboration platform, Slack is used when multiple people need to weigh in on and keep up with a collaborative project. There’s a ‘Slack Bot’ that automates certain tasks with predictive suggestions, lets you send links to yourself, and answers questions, too. Slack also allows for extremely useful integrations with tons of other office software and programs.

It can send push notifications to members’ phones so even workers on the go are informed. This may be one of the reasons it’s very popular in Silicon Valley and with younger workers, who are helping drive the bring-your-own-device (BYOD) movement.

Here’s How Microsoft has Changed

Then there’s 40+ year-old Microsftoft. Microsoft may have cornered the market on office software and email platforms for the last twenty years, but they’d been resting on their laurels far too long. Only recently back in the game, they’re working hard to catch up.

Back in 2016, Microsoft considered purchasing Slack but decided Skype was a better avenue for team chattiness and sharing. Then in March of this year, they rolled out Teams.

Teams is Microsoft’s answer to collaboration software. For companies who already subscribe to Office 365, the cloud-based service granting access to Microsoft powerhouses like Word, Excel, PowerPoint and Outlook, Teams is built right in.

Teams brings chat functionality to the already powerful suite of programs enjoyed by Office 365 users, of which there are roughly 85 million.

How do They Compare?

Microsoft Teams looks a lot like Slack, and that’s no coincidence because it behaves much like Slack too. Both offer an open environment for unstructured digital chatting. But dig under the surface and there are some differences between the two:

  • Skins - Slack offers lots of different skins and themes for a customized look. Teams does not.
  • Bots - Teams’ ‘WhoBot’ is more powerful than Slack’s bot. For example, it can pull up data from your company intranet. That means you get access to personal information about colleagues, such as their department and their manager, plus who’s an expert in what.
  • Integrations - Of course, a main advantage of Teams is that it’s seamlessly integrated with Office 365. Slack does have around 750 integrations, however, which Teams has only 150 integrations with non-Microsoft products.


  • Video chat - Teams has Skype built in, while Slack has it’s own proprietary voice and video calling service built in. 

    Security - Both are ISO 27001-compliant, but Teams adds more compliance certifications on top of that.


    Outside users - Slack allows for outside collaborators, while Teams doesn’t. The outside user functionality is important if you want to communicate with contractors.

Microsoft and Slack are in a hard race to win the online collaboration platform race. As the competition heats up, we can expect even more built-in integrations, better functionality, and more apps from both. Which is best? The bottom line, at the moment, seems to come down to how heavily invested you are with Office 365. If not so much, you may appreciate the flexibility of Slack.