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The free version of Microsoft Teams. (Microsoft Photo)

Microsoft today debuted a free version of Microsoft Teams, expanding the reach of the company’s Slack competitor beyond the Office 365 ecosystem.

The company says more than 200,000 organizations use Microsoft Teams, which launched last spring. Until today Teams was limited to Office 365 subscribers, but now anyone can sign up, even those with no connection to Office.

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The free version supports up to 300 users per company and offers many of the same features as the version inside Office 365, such as video and audio calling for one-on-one meetings and bigger events, the ability to search messages and integrations with other Microsoft products as well as more than 140 third-party apps.

The free version of Teams is available in 40 languages and includes the ability to translate within the app. Organizations get 10GB of storage as well as 2GB of storage for individuals.

A free version of Teams users outside Microsoft’s ecosystem a taste of what it can do. Teams is part of Office 365 and the broader Microsoft 365 — which combines Office, Windows 10 and the Enterprise Mobility and Security solution — and getting organizations hooked on the productivity tool could compel them to dive deeper into Microsoft world.

Integrating Excel documents into Microsoft Teams. (Microsoft Photo)

The free version of Teams was announced ahead of Microsoft Inspire, the company’s annual partner conference, next week. Microsoft also showed off new live event capabilities for Office among other productivity features and new offerings for Azure and Power BI.

If there was any doubt that Microsoft sees Slack as a primary competitor, that should be put to rest today. In materials describing the free version of Teams, Microsoft included comparisons with Slack for the number of languages the programs are available in, storage space, message search and more.

As Microsoft rolls out the free edition of Teams, Slack too is upping its game. Slack, which boasts more than 8 million daily users, is fixing one of its major issues: the search function. The update is designed to let users filter queries by team member, channel, and file type in order to hone in on the message or file they want through a new window that pops up over the main Slack feed.

Microsoft has been steadily investing in Teams over the last year, issuing several big updates and expanding into new markets like government organizations. In a sign of its commitment to the program, Microsoft said last year it planned to make Teams the primary meeting tool for Office 365 customers, supplanting Skype for Business.

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