Microsoft’s stance for decades was that community creation and sharing of communal code (later to be known as free and open source software) represented a direct attack on their business. Their battle with Linux stretches back many years. Back in 2001, former Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer famously tarnished Linux “a cancer that attaches itself in an intellectual property sense to everything it touches”. Microsoft also initiated its “Get the Facts” marketing campaign from mid-2003, which specifically criticized Linux server usage, total cost of ownership, security, indemnification and reliability. The campaign was widely criticized for spreading misinformation.
However, in recent years, there has been a partial shift by Microsoft to embrace the open source software paradigm. For example, some of their code is open sourced. Examples include Visual Studio Code, .NET Framework, Atom, and PowerShell. They have also made investments in Linux development, server technology and organizations including the Linux Foundation and Open Source Initiative. They have made acquisitions such as Xamarin to help mobile app development, and GitHub a hugely popular code repository for open source developers. And they have partnered with Canonical, the developers of the popular Ubuntu distro. But many developers remain hugely sceptical about Microsoft and their apparent shift to embrace open source.
This series looks at the best free and open source alternatives to products and services offered by Microsoft.
Microsoft Teams is a proprietary business communication platform. The service integrates with the company’s Office 365 subscription office productivity suite.
Teams is replacing other Microsoft-operated business messaging and collaboration platforms, including Skype for Business and Microsoft Classroom.
What are the best free and open source alternatives to Teams?
Mattermost is an open-source, self-hostable online chat service with file sharing, search, and integrations. It is designed as an internal chat for organisations and companies, and mostly markets itself as an open-source alternative.
Mattermost distinguishes itself from proprietary messaging software thanks to several features, namely:
- Slack-compatibility: users can import other users, public channel history, and theme-setting colours;
- Good mobile experience with comment threads and file sharing features;
- Mobile and desktop apps, in addition to web apps; and
- User-friendliness: Mattermost is easy to deploy, manage, and upgrade.
Matrix is an open standard for interoperable, decentralised, real-time communication over IP. It can be used to power Instant Messaging, VoIP/WebRTC signalling, Internet of Things communication – or anywhere you need a standard HTTP API for publishing and subscribing to data whilst tracking the conversation history.
Zulip combines the immediacy of real-time chat with an email threading model. With Zulip, you can catch up on important conversations while ignoring irrelevant ones.
Apart from the web interface, Zulip officially supports other clients, all of which are open sourced. These include a terminal based client for Linux.
Element (formerly Riot and Vector) is a free and open-source software instant messaging client implementing the Matrix protocol. It offers end-to-end encrypted messaging with voice and video support.
Other useful open source communication software includes Jitsi, qTox, and Wire.
All articles in this series:
|Alternatives to Microsoft's Products and Services|
|Bing offers search services, including web, video, image and map search products. It's developed using ASP.NET.|
|Dynamics 365 is a product line of enterprise resource planning and customer relationship management intelligent business applications.|
|Exchange Server is a mail server and calendaring server. Exchange uses a single building block architecture.|
|GitHub is a distributed version control and source code management functionality service. It includes non-Git elements.|
|Office is a family of client software, server software, and services. Microsoft has promoted Office 365 as the primary means of obtaining Office.|
|OneDrive is a file hosting service and synchronization service. Users can upload Microsoft Office documents to OneDrive.|
|OneNote is a note-taking program for free-form information gathering and collaboration. It gathers users’ notes, drawings, screen clippings, and audio commentaries.|
|Outlook is a personal information manager that's primarily an email client. It includes calendaring, task managing, contact managing, note-taking, journal logging, and web browsing.|
|Planner lets users create Kanban boards using content-rich tasks with features including files, checklists, and labels.|
|Project lets you develop schedules, assign resources, track progress, manage budget, and more. It's part of the Microsoft Office enterprise project management product.|
|Publisher is a desktop publishing application with focus on page layout and design. Use text, photos and links to make professional publications personal.|
|Skype is software for VoIP-based videotelephony, videoconferencing and voice calls. The software also provides instant messaging, file transfer, debit-based calls to landline and mobile telephones (over traditional telephone networks), and more.|
|Snipping Tool is a screenshot utility. It can take still screenshots of an open window, rectangular areas, a free-form area, or the entire screen.|
|SwiftKey is a virtual keyboard app for Android. SwiftKey learns from previous typed text and outputs predictions based on currently inputted text and what it has learned.|
|Teams is a business communication platform. The service integrates with the company’s Office 365 subscription office productivity suite.|
|To Do is a cloud-based task management application. It allows users to manage their tasks from a smartphone, tablet and computer.|
|Visio is a diagramming and vector graphics application. Database modeling in Visio revolves around a Database Model Diagram (DMD).|
|Visual Studio is an integrated development environment. It is used to develop computer programs, as well as websites, web apps, web services and mobile apps.|
|Whiteboard provides a freeform, intelligent canvas where you and your team can create, and collaborate visually via the cloud. Designed for touch, type, and pen, it lets you write or draw as smoothly as you would with ink.|
|Yammer is a social-networking platform for organizations. It’s a closed platform sometimes described as Facebook for businesses.|