Editor's note: Skype for Business is no longer Microsoft's main communication app to rival Slack. With the new 8.0 update, the application's main function is video chatting, although it does still support instant messaging. If you're looking for a comparison between Microsoft and Slack products that are on a more even playing field, see our breakdown of Slack and Microsoft Teams.
Skype was once a titan of office communication, but with the recent unveiling of the new and improved Microsoft Teams, this former player is being relegated to a single function. Still, Skype and Slack are among the most used communication apps in the workplace, as they're ideal tools to directly message colleagues and spur collaborative conversations.
The right internal communication tool for your business depends largely on your type of company and what kind of services you need. Slack and Skype for Business are ideal instant messaging tools that have some call and video features. If you need more robust video tools, it may be worth looking into separate video conferencing software. It's not uncommon for companies to use an instant messaging tool alongside separate video conferencing software. If you'd like to see our recommendations for the best video conference services, visit our best picks page. You can also check out our full review of Microsoft Teams.
To help you find the right communication solution for your business, here's a breakdown of how Slack compares to Skype for small businesses.
Slack – The basic version of Slack is free, but it's limited to two-person voice and video calls and only 10 app integrations. Paid versions start at $6.67 per active user per month and come with group voice and video calls, unlimited searches, unlimited integrations, priority support, and better security. Slack also offers a plan that costs $12.50 per user per month and comes with more advanced IT features, such as single sign-on, a 99.9% uptime guarantee and 24/7 support.
Skype for Business – Skype is now part of the Microsoft Office 365 for Business plans, but it can still be purchased individually for your business. [Read related article: Collaboration Tools for Small Business]
Messaging and calls
Slack – Slack offers one-on-one and group messaging via direct messages and multiple channels. Users can also hold individual and group audio and video calls. One nice feature in Slack is your own private channel – you can message yourself to set up a to-do list, organize tasks or set reminders.
Skype for Business – Like Slack, Skype offers instant messaging and one-on-one and group audio and video calls.
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Slack – Slack makes it easy to collaborate via Channels. Users create Channels, using hashtags, to organize projects, teams and other topics to keep everyone in the loop. Slack also lets users easily share all types of files simply by dragging and dropping them into the app, or by syncing the service with file-sharing services like Google Drive and Dropbox. Slack conversations and shared files are also fully archived, so users can quickly search for what they need at any time.
Skype – Skype offers true collaboration during audio and video calls. This includes screen sharing and the ability to record meetings. There's built in instant messaging, PowerPoint upload features and a whiteboard. You can also hold meetings with up to 250 people, record those meetings, take quick polls or add attachments to a meeting.
Slack – Slack shines when it comes to integrating apps that businesses use. This means users get all their notifications and can get most of their work done within the Slack platform without switching between apps. Integrations include Salesforce, Dropbox, Twitter and GitHub, as well as other communication tools like Zoom, BlueJeans and Google Hangouts. Additionally, Slack is fully integrated with Google Drive, which allows users to share and view Google Doc, Sheet or Slide files during calls and within conversations.
Skype – One of Skype's highlights is that it is fully integrated with Microsoft Office. This includes Word, Excel, PowerPoint, OneNote and Outlook (users can also schedule meetings right from Outlook).
Which is best?
Which service is best for you depends largely on your business. Either way, Microsoft Teams is now Microsoft's flagship business communication tool. It's also included with Office 365 subscription plans and possesses much of the same capabilities as Skype. Microsoft introduced a free version of Teams, so very small businesses can use this program without signing up for a full-fledged Office 365 subscription plan.