Enterprise messaging service HipChat extends free offering to cover unlimited users

HipChat, the trendily named private instant messaging service for the enterprise, has made a number of major changes including expanding its free package to cover unlimited users from today.

Previously, HipChat was free but only for teams of up to five people – but now you can have the HipChat Basic service for gratis with an unlimited amount of users on board.

HipChat's previous paid-for service has been ditched in favour of HipChat Plus, which costs $2 (£1.20) per user, per month, and for the money you get extras on top of the Basic free package including video chat, screen sharing, and a fully searchable message history which extends back to when you first signed up to the service.

Those who are already subscribing to HipChat's paid service will be automatically switched on to HipChat Plus, with fees and features remaining the same. And organisations using the free service will be able to invite as many people as they want on board from now on.

Note that while HipChat Basic is now unlimited in terms of users, file storage has a ceiling of 5GB (there's no limit with the Plus plan), and messages are only searchable for the last 25,000 sent (which apparently represents a six month window for the average team of five).

HipChat issued a statement to say: "A lot of teams are using consumer chat services simply because they're free. We want to show them how good chat can be when it's actually designed for teams. And we want to make it easy for teams to start using HipChat without worrying about credit cards, invoicing, or expense reports. If you're still using consumer IM tools for work, 'it's free' is no longer an excuse. Get chat that's built for your team."