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Microsoft Teams was announced in November. (Microsoft Photo)

Microsoft Teams isn’t even generally available to the public yet, but one report prognosticates that the new chat app will soon be used by more businesses than both Google Hangouts and Slack.

A survey of IT pros by Austin-based IT network Spiceworks found that pretty much everyone uses email, and Microsoft’s Skype for Business is the most commonly-used collaborative chat app, with 36 percent of businesses deploying it in some way. That is followed by Google Hangouts at 16 percent and Slack at 13 percent.

Only 3 percent of businesses surveyed said they were using Microsoft Teams, which was announced in November. But the survey found that another 17 percent of companies plan to deploy Teams in the next two years. In contrast, adoption of Hangouts and Slack are only expected to rise a couple percentage points each, to 19 and 17 percent usage, respectively.

“If these plans hold true, Microsoft Teams will be the second most commonly used messaging platform in the workplace by the end of 2018, surpassing Slack and Google Hangouts, and coming in behind only Skype for Business,” according to the report. “This bodes well for Microsoft, who owns Skype, and could speak to the fact that Microsoft Teams is free to use for companies that subscribe to Office 365.”

Skype for Business is the most used chat app, and Microsoft Teams may be second in a couple years. (Chart Via Spiceworks)

The survey also found that Facebook’s new chat program, Workplace by Facebook, is only being used by 1 percent of businesses, and that rate is not expected to increase in the near future.

Microsoft Teams is currently available as a customer preview in 180 different countries. It is included in enterprise and small business versions of the Office 365 subscription service. General availability is scheduled for the first quarter of this year.

Skype for Business was most popular with large companies. Half of the companies surveyed with more than 500 people reported using Skype for Business, compared to 38 percent of companies with 100 to 500 people and 28 percent at smaller businesses with less than 100 employees. Skype for Business also received the highest marks from IT pros for security, and they also said it was the easiest to manage and most reliable.

Slack didn’t have a lot of variation based on company size, with 15 percent usage at small companies, 14 percent at large enterprises and 10 percent at medium-sized organizations. IT pros rated Slack as by far the most innovative chat app, the most user friendly and the most compatible with other apps.

Skype for Business is used by half of all large businesses surveyed. (Chart Via Spiceworks)

Chat apps have become essential to many teams, as employees increasingly telecommute or work flex hours. Providing workplace productivity tools is essential to Microsoft’s business, so it’s unsurprising that the Redmond, Wash.-based company is betting big on Skype for Business and Teams.

Slack has welcomed the challenge of beating out one of the world’s biggest tech companies. In a full-page “Dear Microsoft” open letter in the New York Times published the morning of Microsoft’s Teams announcement, Slack congratulated Microsoft but cautioned that “all this is harder than it looks,” and proceeded to give the 41-year-old technology company some “friendly advice.”

“We realized a few years ago that the value of switching to Slack was so obvious and the advantages so overwhelming that every business would be using Slack, or “something just like it,” within the decade,” according to the letter. “It’s validating to see you’ve come around to the same way of thinking. And even though — being honest here — it’s a little scary, we know it will bring a better future forward faster.”

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