back to article Farewell then, Slack: The grown-ups have arrived

Slack chief exec Stewart Butterfield is one of the more thoughtful Web 2.0 CEOs, but his software is like those movie sets in Westerns: all facade, no house. A beautiful UX is created, the hipsters are lured in. It worked for Flickr, and it worked for Slack. “Slack just feels, looks and sounds different than the boring …

  1. KroSha

    Slack is useful, but it's a bugger to search for one specific piece of info. I hate that some software houses use it as their user support.

    1. Def Silver badge

      I hate that we use it for customer support. I've argued until I'm blue in the face that we should consider a more professional solution, but to no avail.

      I can only console myself with the fact that while we also use it for day to day communication, I can mostly ignore it. It is, afterall, merely a 21st century noise generator.

  2. Chewi
    Stop

    You'll have to pry IRC and XMPP from my cold dead fingers!!!

    1. pakman

      You'll have to pry IRC and XMPP from my cold dead fingers!!!

      IMHO Matrix (http://matrix.org/) ticks all the boxes, but it doesn't look to me like it is quite ready for mass adoption yet. It is quite usable by early adopters though.

    2. Ken 16 Silver badge
      Trollface

      If you have cold dead fingers

      you may be glad to see Notes is back; https://www.theregister.co.uk/2018/07/16/domino_10_beta_2/

      "send more brains"

      1. CrazyOldCatMan Silver badge

        Re: If you have cold dead fingers

        "send more brains"

        My experience with Notes is that it tries to make your brain die from sheer frustration..

        1. Claptrap314 Silver badge

          Re: If you have cold dead fingers

          When I was at AMD, they used Outlook. Made me want to scream. Ran Eudora at home. Then I went to IBM. Which owned Notes. <starts rocking furiously>

  3. Charlie Clark Silver badge
    Thumb Up

    Have an extra upvote for…

    For Slack is a business, and Teams is a feature.

    Slack has also done some acquisitions including some fucking awful screen sharing and audio features.

    E-mail is great because it's largely just a protocol and you can always keep local copies of your e-mails. It's also great because it works best as text/plain: everytime someone sends a formatted e-mail, or a top-reply a kitten dies.

    1. Geoffrey W Silver badge
      Terminator

      Re: Have an extra upvote for…

      MWAHAHAHAHA Die KITTY, Die!

      (#゚Д゚)

      RE: "everytime someone sends a formatted e-mail, or a top-reply a kitten dies."

    2. bitten

      Re: Have an extra upvote for…

      "a kitten dies"

      Tempting

      1. CrazyOldCatMan Silver badge

        Re: Have an extra upvote for…

        Tempting

        We're watching you y'know..

        Signed,

        KLF

        (Kitty Liberation Front - reclaiming our food dishes, one human at a time)

        1. Geoffrey W Silver badge

          Re: Have an extra upvote for…

          RE KLF

          Please don't come after me. My post was entirely fake. My cat mistress made me do it. She says there are too many kittens on the interwebz...slutz apparently...I'm subservient...meoooow? purrrr? biscuits?

  4. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Slack may be the flavour of the month, but in reality it's just a poor substitute for email.

    1. Jeffrey Nonken Silver badge

      I don't see it as anything like a substitute for email. I see it as a chat system. The fact that it archives is a nice feature, that's all. The fact that it supports emojis is just an annoyance.

      1. Dagg
        Unhappy

        I don't see it as anything like a substitute for email. I see it as a chat system.

        Exactly, unfortunately our pointy haired ones insist that it be used as an Email replacement and it is a pain. They all now expect instant answers and because it is now an 'email' system we have an incredible number of direct messages just to cover the 1:1 email communications.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          "I don't see it as anything like a substitute for email. I see it as a chat system."

          I don't see it as a replacement for anything. Its interface is a mess and you cannot easily follow the multiple conversations that arise in channels.

          Its only saving grace is that in a busy channel, conversations are so disjointed and fall off the top so quickly I don't have to bother even pretending to read them.

          Any project that I'm involved with that has added Discourse sees me quickly stop using the Slack channels. Now Discourse IS an email replacement.

          Teams is closer to Discourse in some ways. A dumpy, inelegant client as yet but slowly improving.

  5. J I

    I'd rather stick with Slack than trust Microsoft not to stuff it up

    Slack isn't a replacement for e-mail, it's a different beast. We use Slack a lot and have all kinds of inter-team channels, and it works really well for short form instant-messages between team members and sharing links to other resources, and the seach isn't bad for finding all the useful code snippets that someone has sent you later. We still use e-mail for all the other stuff that e-mail is a better fit for.

    I can see that Microsoft's offer being free is tempting, but Slack is relatively reliable, has decent phone apps, and a good set of features, whereas MS will probably push this hard now, neglect it for a bit, then at arbitrary intervals push out unnecessary new versions that pointlessly screw up all the features you were relying on, like they did with Skype (et al).

    1. Kristian Walsh

      Re: I'd rather stick with Slack than trust Microsoft not to stuff it up

      "relatively" reliable?

      You know that, a couple of weeks ago, Slack went down across a huge chunk of the US for a whole day?

      And it didn't make the tech news, because it was just another Slack outage.

      As a company, Slack has shown over and over that it lacks the IT expertise to design and maintain a communications service.

    2. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

      Re: I'd rather stick with Slack than trust Microsoft not to stuff it up

      screw up all the features you were relying on

      The new "teams for business" removes the shared messaging facility and replaces it with the ability to email powerpoints to each other

  6. Gordon 10 Silver badge
    Holmes

    Its the integrations stoopid

    Slacks USP is the integrations. It basically makes the hipster devs never have to leave it. It essentially becomes their comms and notification dashboard. Once you have JIRA, Jive, SNow, Confluence, Webex, Quip and half a dozen others all configured they are in happy land.

    It becomes very sticky - precisely because its the glue holding the whole SDLC lifecycle apps together.

    1. Voland's right hand Silver badge

      Re: Its the integrations stoopid

      Bingo - I was just going to write the same.

      Teams is several YEARS behind slack as far as drop-in integration especially for development environments. Sure, MSFT comes with integrations of its own, but they are to different (and for developers the wrong) systems.

      This is one area where MSFT acquisition of github needs to be watched. While on one hand GitTeams is an anathema and abomination onto nuggan it is also the only thing that can compete with Slack or Atlassian XMPP based vertical stack for that matter.

    2. John Smith 19 Gold badge
      Unhappy

      It basically makes the hipster devs never have to leave it.

      OMG

      Slack is hipster EMACS

      1. CrazyOldCatMan Silver badge

        Re: It basically makes the hipster devs never have to leave it.

        Slack is hipster EMACS

        And thus must DIE BY FIRE!

        Vi Forever! Vive Vi!

    3. Robin

      Re: Its the integrations stoopid

      I used it in the last place I worked and yes I agree, the integrations for e.g. Jira, Git and Hubot were pretty useful.

      In the same conversation group where a particular subset of people are discussing a feature of a project, you can get quick updates on Jira tickets, issue Hubot commands and see the responses, all out in the open so everybody knows what's going on. We used to do deployments and all sorts this way.

      People here suggesting it's a poor replacement for email have never used it properly, or at all.

      1. Michael Wojcik Silver badge

        Re: Its the integrations stoopid

        In the same conversation group where a particular subset of people are discussing a feature of a project, you can get quick updates on Jira tickets, issue Hubot commands and see the responses, all out in the open so everybody knows what's going on. We used to do deployments and all sorts this way.

        So it becomes something like a combined chat and shared shell session? I can't say I find that idea appealing, but I can see the use cases.

        We've been using Rocket Chat here for a while, and for most teams it's either ignored entirely (this seems to be the majority response) or used for casual conversation - often work-related, such as security news, but not specific to some work task. Water-cooler stuff.

        Some teams do have build systems and the like integrated into it, but for my work, there wouldn't be any added value to that aside from having fewer emails to delete.

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Its the integrations stoopid

        "People here suggesting it's a poor replacement for email have never used it properly, or at all."

        Wow, now that is hubris indeed.

        So your knowledge is so broad that you are intimately familiar with all of the different ways that both Slack and email are used?

    4. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Its the integrations stoopid

      "It becomes very sticky - precisely because its the glue holding the whole SDLC lifecycle apps together"

      The 'Systems Development Lifecycle' lifecycle? That one one?

      A/C.

    5. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Its the integrations stoopid

      "Slacks USP is the integrations. It basically makes the hipster devs never have to leave it. It essentially becomes their comms and notification dashboard. Once you have JIRA, Jive, SNow, Confluence, Webex, Quip and half a dozen others all configured they are in happy land."

      Urm, while it may be true that Slack integration may be easier to set up in some cases, Teams is certainly no slouch for integration and indeed, it is pretty easy to set up your own integration via webhooks.

      A quick check turned up existing integrations for JIRA and Webex, Confluence and several options for ServiceNow. All the usual suspects like Twitter, etc are also there.

      Teams has the ability to either integrate messages into a discussion OR expose a web service as a Tab within the native Teams interface which is somewhat different to Slack.

      Teams (at least the enterprise version) also uses Azure AD for single sign-on so SSO integration to thousands of 3rd-party services is trivial.

  7. Barry Rueger

    No, consistency is a FEATURE.

    The worrying thing for Slack is how little it has changed since 2015, when it first took off.

    Count me among those who don't like software changing features and functions every other month. (Yes, I'm talking to you Gmail.)

    Constant change disrupts work-flow and impairs productivity.

    1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

      Re: No, consistency is a FEATURE.

      Yes, that's what I came here to say too! I'll just add that it's a rather sad indictment of the current fad for "new is always better, more shiny is always better". No, it isn't. It REALLY isn't. Sometimes, there is a level of perfection that Just Works and no amount of UI redesign will make it better. (Not saying that Slack is that level of perfection, but you all know what I mean)

      Yesterday, I had to print an Excel spreadsheet. I don't use Excel, I use LibreOffice (and even that not very often) and spent over 10 minutes trying to find the print function. How was I to know that MS in there wisdom had invented the equivalent of a Start button which just looks like a bit of decoration instead of me easily finding the File menu and clicking Print like I've done for pretty much every iteration of every application for the last 20 years?

      1. Charles 9 Silver badge

        Re: No, consistency is a FEATURE.

        Ever heard the phrase, "Steady ain't sexy"? Or the idea that it's never a good idea to rest on one's laurels or that there's no such thing as perfection, meaning there's ALWAYS something better waiting to be tapped? Unless someone can PROVE otherwise?

      2. PCM2

        Re: No, consistency is a FEATURE.

        Eh? I just opened the latest edition of Excel, clicked the File menu, and found the Print button. For all I can remember, that has also been true since they introduced the Ribbon UI. Failing that, rather than spend all that time I would have hit Ctrl-P.

        1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

          Re: No, consistency is a FEATURE.

          "Eh? I just opened the latest edition of Excel, "

          I think it was Excel 2013 with whatever the latest patches do. I will freely admit I forgot about Ctrl-P :-)

      3. Warm Braw Silver badge

        Re: No, consistency is a FEATURE.

        new is always better

        I was reminded of VAX Notes. It would be derided today for its glass teletype interface, but it was transformative - certainly internally in Digital - at the time.

        I'm far too old to have any exposure to Slack, which might be why I'm suspicious of any solution, whoever the supplier might be, that depends on your critical business functions being performed using a proprietary solution hosted by a third party. A hosted open solution you can migrate elsewhere, yes; A hosted proprietary solution you can migrate in house, perhaps. Chucking your stuff into the cloud and hoping it will be there tomorrow. no.

        And it really isn't as if there aren't alternatives.

    2. RegGuy1

      Constant change disrupts work-flow and impairs productivity.

      Gnome 3 DIE.

      Opps, sorry, wrong thread.

  8. rogerroger

    What about cisco?

    You all forgot to mention the Cisco spark webex teams chimera. Clearly catching up with the UX of the 1990s.

    IT has kindly sort of given this to the company without actually asking us if it's what we wanted and without really telling anyone about it.

    I suppose if slack doesn't change much more they may catch up in the next couple of years

    1. Mr D Spenser

      Re: What about cisco?

      Plus it give you the added benefit that your local Cisco account reps can now directly integrate themselves into your infrastructure! Well, at least they do at our site.

  9. Kevin McMurtrie Silver badge

    short shelf life that might be axed

    Exactly this. MS and Google might deploy a buggy app then decide that they're not going to fix it because they're exploring other internally competing products. Inside a corporation with little computer diversity, you could find that chat is suddenly gone forever without warning. Skype must be on everyone's mind.

    Slack has its outages but they come back in a few hours.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Isn't Skype being replaced by Teams?

      And isn't it confusing to have some of your users using Skype and other using Teams?

      1. J. Cook Silver badge

        Re: Isn't Skype being replaced by Teams?

        I seem to recall reading somewhere that MS is wanting to kill off skype for business, force everyone in that pool to Teams, and then merge the consumer version of skype with that.

        I would be waaaay off, though.

        Personally, the only reason I even have the SFB client running on my workstation is because I'm (unfortunately) the owner of that application, and it's useful to use it as a monitor to see if the servers have fallen over. :D

  10. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    It still shocks me that people pay real money for what is basically a bloated IRC client with a built in script and an inability to control/host your own network.

    Maybe the simple reality is that enough people in the tech industry are too young to actually ever remember using IRC to any real extent. If you are in your mid to late 20s or early 30s, IRC was probably not a significant thing for you unless you were pretty damn serious about being a nerd as a teenager. You might have occasionally used IRC in a really minimal way, or even used some kind of browser based implementation without even knowing what you were doing. That is certainly the case in the US, and maybe also in parts of western europe. its obviously a bit different in other places, but IRC seemed to peak around ~1998~2002 or maybe slightly later, meaning that someone of that age either would have been an adolescent at the time it was at its height of popularity.

    1. Dave559

      Re: IRC

      I never used IRC: back in the 90s every minute that your modem was connected to the net cost you real money in phone call charges, and all the time you were connected you were hogging the phone line preventing it being used for calls (mobile phones and call charges were only just starting to become affordable).

      So my preferred means of discussion was usenet: dial up, send/fetch new messages, hang up, read and write offline. Simpler times!

      1. Claptrap314 Silver badge

        Re: IRC

        That was at home. At school.... :)

  11. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Microsoft Teams?

    Yeh right. Will someone take that abomination Lync out back and shoot it in the neck, please?

    1. Dan 55 Silver badge

      Re: Microsoft Teams?

      Perhaps Teams could include stuff like a search that is usable, or being able to scroll back without it taking several millennia to repaint the screen, or even an ringtone so you know calls have connected before doing that. Or are we to be condemned to agile hell?

  12. m50d

    Microsoft couldn't make a decent chat app if they bought it for $8.5 billion and it was already working perfectly. The only reason Slack came about in the first place is that they screwed up Skype *and* Yammer *and* Lync.

    No-one wants to "be a grown-up" either - if they did, HipChat would have won over Slack. In fact Slack's biggest threat is from the other side - Discord offers a better package for free.

  13. IGnatius T Foobar ✅

    "death of email" ? not until chat gets federation!

    One reason email persists to this day is because every email system can send mail to every other email system in the world. The XMPP people even built and published the protocols for chat systems to do this, but Slack, Microsoft, Facebook, Apple, and Google all decided to be greedy and put their users into walled gardens.

    Until that problem is solved, email will always reign supreme. Because when you want to send a message to someone who isn't on the same system as you, it just works.

    1. Charles 9 Silver badge

      Re: "death of email" ? not until chat gets federation!

      Not necessarily. And if it breaks, it's sometimes hard to tell where it broke. Finally, BECAUSE anyone can pony up, it's prone to abuse, or need we be reminded that legitimate e-mail probably comprises 10% (and shrinking) of all e-mail being sent today?

      1. Ben Tasker Silver badge

        Re: "death of email" ? not until chat gets federation!

        Because no-one ever receives chats from random bots pretending to be lonely young women on Skype and other chat apps?

        Email has a spam problem, sure, but it's not like the centralised chat systems don't either. Worse, being centralised they should be more able to prevent it.

        1. Charles 9 Silver badge

          Re: "death of email" ? not until chat gets federation!

          "Because no-one ever receives chats from random bots pretending to be lonely young women on Skype and other chat apps?"

          Uh...no. But then, I don't make my profile public. Meanwhile, I get spam in an e-mail address I never divulged, as if bots are picking letters out of a hat, throwing them out there, and seeing if they don't get a reject message.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: "death of email" ? not until chat gets federation!

            I get more of both on my accounts that haven't been used publicly! So if you think, as I do, that some agent(s) out there tossing random letters and digits to look for lack of rejection? 'T' wouldn't surprise me at all.

          2. tiggity Silver badge

            Re: "death of email" ? not until chat gets federation!

            Exactly what they do.

            I had a catchall on one of my old email accounts (anything that was not sent to a specific list of email addresses got sent to a "sink" account). Sometimes mails in there would be typos of a "proper" address of mine, but mainly they were random - sometimes peoples names other times just word(s) from dictionary - few obvious ones e.g. sales, support, marketing, admin, HR etc

    2. Rafael Laguna

      Re: "death of email" ? not until chat gets federation!

      And then add this (linked in the article)

      https://www.theregister.co.uk/2017/10/19/laguna_interview_imap_chat_plan/

      to Email, bingo.

  14. Andy Mac

    If your organisation is big enough to get through 10000 messages per day and is too stingy to pay Slack, I’d be worried.

    1. pogul

      It's not per day - it's total historical messages

  15. IamStillIan

    Slack has the more aggressive privacy policy - basically that they can share everything in every message with third parties....; that was a problem for us.

    Teams doesn't take that stance.

    1. Adair

      So Slack hasn't changed then? When I looked into it the reason I dropped it like a hot brick was because of it's abysmal privacy policy. A waste of valuable SSD space.

      As mentioned further up Matrix looks like a far more pragmatic and user friendly solution for anyone who has the slightest interest in being in control and maintaining at least a semblance of security/privacy.

  16. The Empress

    MS will screw it up

    They will make a bloated clunky confusing mishmash that limps along while MS tells us it will work better if you only buy Azure and SharePoint. It won't work well with Android or iOS, it will have endless patches and unless your org is running a perfectly matched set of identical clients things will break. The beauty of Slack is that it precisely HASN'T changed much. It does what it needs to do, simply. They haven't tossed in 3 million horrible features no one wants.

    1. hypercube33
      Meh

      Re: MS will screw it up

      Too late, Teams is already a cluster truck. It installs in user space and for a corporate environment thats a no-no. It also doesn't follow MS rules for installation. They have 300+ replies online saying to fix this or its in the trash and they closed the thread and resolved.

      On top of that, there is no usable chat history inside the program or inside outlook email where things like Jabber or Skype for Business used and scrolling back more than two messages locks the app up.

      Its also pretty ugly compared to discord which is already almost software gore.

  17. J27 Bronze badge

    Yeah...

    I think the author of this piece is missing the context here. Microsoft constantly makes knockoffs of popular products to try and steal their market. It rarely works. This is another Zune, another Groove Music, another Windows Phone. I don't think Teams is any more likely to kill off Slack than it is to go nowhere and disappear in a year or two. The main issue Microsoft has is that the majority of businesses that want to use Slack, already do. They'd have to have a real break-though product to convince them to switch, and lower cost isn't something most businesses are going to really care about. Slack is not exactly expensive.

  18. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Can Teams do a lot of the same stuff with a less flashy interface? Sure, just like Lotus Notes does the same stuff as any other email platform if you don't care about interface.

    Also, this is a Microsoft definition of free. Teams isn't free, it's included in Office365 which is millions per year.

  19. John Smith 19 Gold badge
    Unhappy

    So MS will launch a "free" client then run all the competition into the ground and...

    SOP at Redmond.

    No change there.

    All the while telling the gullible "Of course you have a choice (to join us). We just want you to be happy "(and use our for-pay products which we have a real monopoly over because we've convinced your PHB's that they can't live without us)

    People will fall for the "Ohh it's free, and we can trust MS," because they always do, despite all the evidence they shouldn't.

    1. Charles 9 Silver badge

      Re: So MS will launch a "free" client then run all the competition into the ground and...

      Well then, who CAN you trust, given that when it comes to many things (like security) you can't even trust YOURSELF?

  20. m_j_d

    Having (briefly) used and poked around in Teams, it seems it's a fancy UI wrapper around Skype for business and Sharepoint (yep THAT beast that just won't die) with some additional stuff that tries to make up for the former two products shortcomings... It's pants and slack does the job for the teams on the project I work on BUT we don't store stuff we want later on slack, for that we have a wiki (from another well known vendor), and email is still used for certain types of communication (with a common reply being "can you stick that email in the wiki" ). So Slack is proving effective at being IRC+ (apart from the outage it suffered a few weeks ago for a couple of hours). We are forced to use Skype for business for voice (and video/screen sharing but that's another story) and we have a handy slack channel to moan about it (we HATE it).

  21. TheBadja

    Teams is free to corporates

    Corporates buy Office 365 for Word, Excel, PowerPoint and Exchange - must haves in most enterprise sized businesses. Upgrade to premium and you get Teams, SharePoint (which many want anyway) and Skype for business. All done with one signature from the CIO.

    Forget about usability or features, corporate IT departments are looking at the dollars and ease of getting it approved. Why would any corporate even consider paying for Slack?

  22. JamieOliver

    i think slick has already been changed,and it is better than before,it took place of other.

  23. J J Carter Silver badge
    Windows

    Slack was the future once

    Teams is already replacing Slack in my organisation.

  24. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    You know Slack is doomed when...

    IBM decides to use it as their collaborative tool.... Oh wait, we already have....

  25. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    MS owns the corporate Desktop: Slack will be crowded out

    MS has owned the big corporate desktop since the late 90's. They successfully crowded out competing products when they decided to compete. That's because big corporate IT is all about standardization, homogenization, uniformity in a 1984 kind of way. Which is a reflection on top-down big corporate culture. The hipsters get their niche tools for a little while, but it never lasts. Eventually, the bean counters, the NewSpeak masters and the box-checkers will keep moving their company towards consolidation into fewer, vertically integrated products and services. Arguing for the techical superiority of (federated) XMPP superiority over Microsoft's walled garden is like trying to re-fight Betamax vs VHS. Not a good strategy, especially when the people at the top are the generation who chose VHS.

  26. DemeterLast

    As it happens, I've never used Slack.

    I've been coerced to use all kinds of ad hoc collaboration methods, but I use two of them: email and SMS.

    Email is is a storage medium, and SMS is a real-time medium. If you are trying to make your problem my problem, use email. If you use SMS, you will get blocked, your problem is not my problem in real time.

    If you could fix the problem, you already have access to the solution. If you don't have access to the solution, you're an intermediary, and your problems are not my problems.

  27. Rainer

    We have Mattermost

    Self-hosted, off-premise, on an OVH-VPS that costs <5€/month, IIRC.

    I'm glad I don't have to have the Skyke-Client open in the Remote Desktop session to the Windows Terminal Server.

    That would be even more destraction.

POST COMMENT House rules

Not a member of The Register? Create a new account here.

  • Enter your comment

  • Add an icon

Anonymous cowards cannot choose their icon

Biting the hand that feeds IT © 1998–2019