HipChat adds free option for unlimited users

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Under a new pricing plan announced Tuesday, Atlassian's HipChat tool is now free for teams of unlimited size.

Atlassian's HipChat collaboration tool has traditionally been free for teams of five or less, with larger teams being forced to pay a small fee. As of Tuesday, that's no longer the case. Atlassian will charge $2 per user per month for HipChat Plus, but the most basic features of the app can be used freely, by all.

Users who are already paying for HipChat will be migrated over to HipChat Plus automatically, Atlassian said. Users in the free tier will also be added to the Plus tier, for free, for 30 days.

HipChat Basic will include free group chat and 1:1 messaging for every person at a company, regardless of size. HipChat Plus will include all of the features of HipChat Basic, as well as the new video-calling feature and a searchable message history.

But there's a catch, of course. "In order to make HipChat Basic free for larger teams, we’ve added some new constraints," the HipChat team said in a blog post. "We worked hard to make sure they would work for small teams while showing larger teams the value of HipChat Plus. The new constraints are: file storage is capped at 5 GB (far more than the average team uses) and you can search the last 25,000 messages (about six months of messages for the average team of five)."

We use HipChat for internal communication and planning at PCWorld, occasional uploads of image art, and as an archive of stored conversations. It's effective, and probably more useful than a tool like Microsoft's Yammer. (Slack never caught on.)

Still, Atlassian has yet to fix my personal and biggest pet peeve: the seeming inability to scroll back through conversations on its Android app, meaning that only the last hour or so of collaboration is available on my phone. Until they fix that, HipChat can be recommended only as a collaboration tool at your desk, not on the go. (As of May 22, HipChat has added a beta version of its HipChat app for Android to the Google Play Store, which appears to fix the scrolling bug noted just above.)

This story was updated at 9:40 AM on May 30 to note that Atlassian has added a beta HipChat app to the Google Play Store.

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