A recent article from Medium explained how Slack’s amazingly successful IPO prompted Microsoft to ban Slack internally in a seemingly jealous rampage. The article’s author, Michael Spencer, cited Friday’s report from GeekWire which revealed Microsoft’s internal Slack ban (at least bans on Slack versions other than Enterprise Grid) as well as the discouragement of other competing platforms such as Google Docs and AWS.
But I think the big picture is being missed here – I believe that Microsoft’s tactic was to help drive home the point that Teams is superior to Slack in terms of security. Security might be the single biggest advantage of Teams that Microsoft continues to dangle over Slack; and the internal ban is just another way to draw attention towards it. The timing was well-planned on Microsoft’s part; everyone is talking about the successful IPO, but Microsoft wants the conversation to swing back towards Slack’s deficiencies.
Further, the fact that they specifically call out Slack’s free/affordable versions (Free, Standard, Plus) while the expensive Enterprise Grid is exempt from the ban? That’s another good dig at Slack – Microsoft wants people to remember that affordable Slack = insecure Slack. Microsoft maintains the advantage of pricing, in many cases, due to the number of organizations that are already subscribed to Office 365’s plethora of other cloud services. Teams is a no-brainer for those organizations, who either gets Teams included completely included in their existing subscription or have it at least partially included. There’s also the free version which Microsoft introduced to compete directly with Slack’s free version.
So let’s not get too caught up with the idea that Microsoft is a jealous little kid throwing a temper tantrum in front of all of its employees. I think they’re better than that – and frankly, why would they be jealous when Teams seems to be product coming out on top anyway? Spiceworks conducted a study in December showing that more organizations reported using Teams than Slack. That same study showed that, while many companies are still using Skype for Business, many more will be switching to Teams very soon.
Google Docs and Amazon’s AWS are also discouraged from use according to Microsoft’s internal list. This is simply expected – why would Microsoft want to incur the costs of services that it already provides a competing solution for? What should be noted here is that their use is discouraged, not prohibited. Microsoft is allowing these competing services to be used when needed – perhaps for keeping up on their new features – but avoiding unnecessary costs of using them when Office or Azure will do the trick. But with Slack (and Grammarly, also) it is a complete ban on the lower versions and not just a discouragement. Sorry Slack, Microsoft says you’re not secure enough to play with the big boys.