On Wednesday, Facebook announced it would offer Workplace–its Slack-like messaging platform for businesses–to the public, for free.

Workplace Premium, the collaborative online space, was first launched in October 2016. The service costs $3 per person for the first 1,000 users, $2 a person for the following 9,000, and $1 a person for any additional users. So far, it’s been used by companies like Starbucks, Viacom, Campbell’s, and thousands of other businesses, according to the social media platform.

The new offering, Workplace Standard, is an entirely free test version.

Although Workplace has a similar look to the consumer version of the social media platform, the platform is not tied to users’ personal Facebook accounts. Instead, it is meant for workplace collaboration, with a news feed, messaging, and live video.

Workplace Premium–which is free to nonprofits and educational institutions–offers businesses the chance to delve into analytics, and provides administrative controls, which are not available on the free version. Also, the Premium version includes single sign-on (SSO), secure identity management, and enterprise support.

And who owns the data differs whether you are using Standard or Premium. In the free version, users own all of the content shared through the platform, and have the chance to delete their accounts. However, users on the Premium edition do not have the same option–in that case, the company owns and administers all data shared on the Workplace platform.

With dozens of other chat platforms for businesses, Facebook is entering into a competitive space. Slack, which boasts 5 million daily active users, launched the Slack Enterprise Grid in January 2017 to offer more flexibility and control for businesses using the platform. Microsoft introduced a version of its workplace collaboration software in November 2016, dubbed Microsoft Teams, which the company plans to integrate with LinkedIn. And Google launched Spaces, its own messaging product, in May 2016, although it announced it was shuttering the program in February 2017.

By offering a free version of Workplace, Facebook hopes to lure smaller businesses onto its platform, banking on the possibility that they’ll eventually sign up for its paid version. It is also offering the tool in the hopes of capturing customers in emerging markets–India being its number one target.

The 3 big takeaways for TechRepublic readers

1. On Wednesday, Facebook announced that it would offer a free version of Workplace, the Slack-like collaboration platform, called Workplace Standard.

2. Unlike Workplace Premium, Facebook’s paid version, Workplace Standard won’t give users the same opportunity to harness administrative and analytical tools.

3. Facebook faces steep competition in the messaging platform space, with Slack, Microsoft, and even Google offering their own versions.

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