Enlarge / The teams look good, but it is unfortunate that their conversation is quite cumbersome in a vertical direction.
The collaborative tool resembling the Microsoft IRC, Teams should have some key features that will make it much more competitive.
The first of them is the guest access. Currently, in teams, every person in a chat room must have an account in Azure Active Directory of an organization. This makes working with external collaborators difficult because many of them do not have, and may not want, such an account. Guest access was announced last September which would allow organizations to create Teams accounts using any e-mail address rather than specifically requesting an Azure AD account. ; the feature is finally deployed next week. Organizations will have to explicitly enable them for their systems, but once they do, their Teams instance will support guest accounts.
The second big feature is freemium pricing. Slack has made great breakthroughs by encouraging organizations to use it for free, and once they're hooked, get them to pay for a longer story and richer features. The teams are currently linked to Office 365; even with the guest access feature, there must be at least one paid Office 365 account to create an instance. However, it seems that this will change, and maybe sooner rather than later. Brad Sams at Petri has reported signs that Microsoft will offer a freemium version, with a free base product available and paid upgrades to access other features. Indications are that freemium users will need a Microsoft account to use the service, although other restrictions are not yet known.
If Microsoft continues, the move will fill one of the biggest product gaps compared to Slack, and should make the teams – and perhaps even Office 365 – much more accessible.