Facebook announced a free version of its Workplace service, a software suite designed to facilitate collaboration inside companies and other organizations of all sizes. The Menlo Park-based social media giant made the announcement on Wednesday at its latest F8 developer conference, adding that the free variant of Workplace will be referred to as the Standard Version of the service. While the company said its more accessible iteration of Workplace will be available in the near future, it didn't provide a specific time frame to accompany that announcement, nor did it say whether the revised version of the platform will be available globally. Still, Facebook confirmed it's currently testing the Standard Version of Workplace in select territories and will launch the platform at some point this year. Businesses and organizations interested in using the newly announced product as quickly as possible will be able to register their interest with Facebook in the coming months, the company said.
With the announcement of a new Workplace tier, Facebook is seemingly moving one step closer to creating a viable competitor to Slack, one of the leading collaborative solutions on the market. Slack also utilizes a tiered business model that allows users to access some basic functionality of its service free of charge but requires them to pay for more robust features. Facebook had success with emulating its competitors in the past, with one of the most notable examples of that strategy being Instagram. While the social media service adopted a lot of features inspired by its biggest competitor Snapchat, its Snapchat-inspired Instagram Stories platform already boasts more users than Snapchat has in total. Apart from providing users with an alternative to Slack that offers a familiar user experience, Facebook's decision to release a free variant of Workplace will also help the company put its service in front of more people, many of which are expected to try it simply because it's free, industry watchers believe.
The company's latest announcement doesn't come as a surprise seeing how reports of a free version of Workplace have been circulating the industry for several weeks now. Still, it remains to be seen how the company is planning to evolve its service in the future.