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The free version of Microsoft Teams. (Microsoft Image)

Microsoft Teams is now being used by more organizations than its rival Slack, according to a new survey that shows how far the Redmond tech giant’s collaboration app has come in less than two years.

A survey of 901 organizations by Austin-based IT network Spiceworks found that 21 percent of respondents use Microsoft Teams versus 15 percent for Slack. Skype for Business is the most popular chat app, with 44 percent of organizations using it.

Microsoft Teams has gained market share quickly in the last two years. (Spiceworks Chart)

The study follows up on a previous survey, which came out before Teams was generally available but predicted it would pass Slack by the end of 2018. At the time of the last survey, in early 2017, Microsoft Teams was only used by 3 percent of respondents versus 16 percent for Google Hangouts and 13 percent for Slack.

“The sudden rise of Microsoft Teams is likely influenced by the fact that it’s available at no additional cost to Office 365 users,” said Peter Tsai, senior technology analyst at Spiceworks. “Although Skype for Business has maintained the lead overall, Microsoft is putting more of an emphasis on Microsoft Teams as the default communications app for Office 365, which is enticing organizations to give it a try. As a result, we’ll likely see Teams adoption rates double in the next couple years.”

According to the companies’ most recent numbers, Microsoft has 329,000 organizations on Teams. In May, Slack said it had more than 500,000 organizations on its platform and 8 million daily active users, 3 million of which are paid. Teams started as a part of Office 365, but Microsoft recently added a free, standalone version. Slack has a free version and a paid version with more features.

Google Hangouts, which was the second most popular chat app in the previous study fell to fourth at 11 percent in this year’s survey. Facebook’s offering, Workplace by Facebook, has yet to gain traction, with only 1 percent of respondents using it.

Microsoft’s products are most popular with large enterprises, while Slack is a favorite of small businesses. (Spiceworks Chart)

Skype for Business and Teams are even more popular among large businesses, which isn’t a surprise given Microsoft’s focus on the enterprise. Slack is the only app that is more popular with small businesses than its overall usage figure.

Looking ahead, Spiceworks projects that Teams will double its market share, growing faster than every other chat app, including Skype for Business. That’s because of last year’s announcement from Microsoft that Teams will eventually replace Skype for Business as the primary tool for all calls, video conferences and meetings for customers using Office 365 in the cloud.

Spiceworks expects Microsoft Teams to double its marketshare in the next two years. (Spiceworks Chart)

Respondents see Teams as the most secure among the chat and collaboration apps, while Slack is perceived as the most innovative.

Despite the rise of chat apps, IT pros still see email as the primary form of business communication now and into the future. Only 16 percent of respondents think chat apps will replace email within the next three to five years, compared to 25 percent in the last survey.

The rivalry between Slack and Microsoft goes back to even before Teams was officially announced in late 2016. At the time, Slack took out a full-page newspaper ad cautioning Microsoft that “all this is harder than it looks.”

Microsoft takes Slack seriously, as well. Over the summer, Microsoft added Slack as a competitor to its Office business in its annual 10K report to the Securities and Exchange Commission.

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