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Business chat has come into its own, with Microsoft debuting its Teams system for Office 365 in March and Google promising to deliver Hangouts Chat for G Suite later this year. What had been a market owned by niche technology companies—Slack for its Slack for Teams and Atlassian for its HipChat—suddenly became an arena for the 800-pound gorillas of office software, Microsoft and Google, as they each seek to own the whole collaboration and communications experience within an enterprise.
But being big doesn’t mean being better. Despite the new competition, Slack remains the undisputed champion of chat, the only service that gets it (almost) all right. A near-equal to Slack two years ago, HipChat has fallen behind and seems to have little momentum behind it.
From a features perspective, Microsoft Teams and HipChat tie as runners-up in the competition. Although Microsoft has steadily improved the Teams service since its unsatisfying mid-April debut, Teams’ complex user interface and inconsistent functionality across platforms make it too hard to deploy to everyday workers—your IT support team would be deluged by confused users. HipChat has its UI act more together, but it also seems to be a stagnant service that I’m leery of depending on for the long term.
It’s unclear what Google’s Hangouts Chat will actually offer; details are scarce and vague, and there’s no release timeline. InfoWorld will update this review when it becomes available.