Citing security concerns, Microsoft recently banned the use of Slack and other popular tools like Grammarly, adding to its internal list of “prohibited and discouraged” software, GeekWire recently reported. Google Docs also made the “discouraged” list. Although Microsoft and Slack are competitors, rivalry is not Microsoft’s main concern. The leading rationale to ban Slack and Google Docs is IT security, and ultimately, the need to protect Microsoft’s intellectual property.
If Slack and Google Docs aren’t available to your internal team because of security concerns or other reasons, what tools can you use instead? Here are three Microsoft alternatives.
- Teams. Teams is Microsoft’s group chat software and Slack alternative. The hub lets users chat, meet, share files, and use built-in Office 365 apps. While Teams may lack some of Slack’s features (e.g. more expansive app directory), Teams is included in the Office 365 subscription—perhaps making its adoption more practical and its integration more seamless. TechGenix also says Microsoft’s advantage is its security, writing, “While Slack does secure its platform with adequate security measures, it’s Microsoft that has the upper hand because of its decades of experience working with large enterprises…”
- Word Online. Word Online, another Microsoft tool, lets users collaborate within an online version of Microsoft Word. Microsoft Word Online enables shared collaboration. And depending on your needs, Word Online’s more robust features can make it a more suitable collaboration tool than Google Docs. Most notably, Word Online’s review mode lets collaborators view comments and see who made changes and when. Although Google Docs offers ‘version history,’ it’s less detailed than Word Online’s review capabilities.
- Microsoft Word Hosted on OneDrive or Sharepoint. If you have a OneDrive or SharePoint account, you can share your Word files to one of those places and grant permissions, giving team members access to view and/or edit files. This process enables an end result that is similar to Word Online or Google Docs, but you don’t have to give up any of your favorite features.
Collaboration Tools As Productivity Helpers (Not Productivity Killers)
Though there are clearly benefits to these collaborative tools, Microsoft Teams and Microsoft cloud options aren’t without their flaws. For instance, when a user is on multiple teams, the Teams software creates multiple inboxes. An unorganized system, combined with limited email integration, can unnecessarily complicate communication efforts rather than simplify them.
Although tools like Slack, Grammarly, and Google Docs are valuable when it comes to communicating and collaborating with your team, at what cost? Microsoft warns against privacy risks, prioritizing security above all else—even to the extent of discouraging internal use of its recent acquisition, GitHub. In addition to heightened security risks, if you’re not careful, real-time messaging and collaboration tools can become productivity killers rather than productivity helpers. If you want to leverage these tools, be intentional about how you integrate them into your workflow.