Yes, I understand that it's still friendlier to use than IRC, but there's a middle ground between "easy to use" and "still looks and works like a proper, professional desktop application." In fact, HipChat is pretty close, even though it's just a wrapped web page too.
It's kind of frustrating to see that all of these Slack alternatives are pretty much taking the same crappy UI cues from Slack. It's kind of like how, until the last few years or so, many common Unix/Linux desktops looked like Win95 rip-offs… You don't need to strive for familiarity if what people are familiar with sucks.
UX includes the cold experience. If you sign up with just one user, Slack creates a couple rooms and has a bot talk to you.
UX includes history management. Slack makes everything searchable and is good enough that most people can find what they want.
UX includes ways to level up your proficiency with the tool. Slack doesn't force integrations, defaults to 1-click OAuth integrations, and lets you explore writing code to integrate, without getting in your way before you're ready.
I don't think it's perfect, but having recently switched from Hipchat and hated on IRC-for-companies for years, they've done a lot of things right.
That is unacceptable, especially when you look at the alternatives it replaces: IRC, XMPP/Jabber and whatnot.
I guess it mostly comes down to Slack choosing the "wrong" stack here: Web-technology is, as is shown quite often, simply not ready for such heavy UX/UIs. Sure, it can be done, but when compared to the simplicity and speed of "native" it simply does not cut it. Yet.
Slack is not replacing IRC or XMPP at all. Slack uses these protocols as part of a groupware suite. As discussed elsewhere in the thread, IRC-at-companies draws mixed reactions. XMPP is a protocol that has seen very wide adoption in the enterprise, with many implementations from a variety of vendors, with a variety of resource consumption issues. XMPP is very much a web technology in the sense you're talking about.
And you are correct that it proved to be a very bad stack for something like Slack, when Google first tried it in 2009: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Apache_Wave
If you really think Slack has made poor technology choices, I'd suggest reading what Stewart had to say on the subject in this interview: http://www.gamasutra.com/view/news/182287/The_story_of_Glitc...
This differs for everyone. For me, it merely replaces XMPP/IRC: group-chat. That is in the last 3 teams where we used slack.
Others, and I guess mostly people who live in their email-inbox, may see Slack as a replacement for their Mail Suite.
Again others may see it as a replacement for teleconferencing/skype.
It really depends where you come from. Me, I come from a simple, integrated IRC and XMPP client. Now we all use Slack and I have a poor experience compared to the Just Works[tm] chat (through empathy) on Ubuntu.
* Slack crashes 2, 3 times per week. Mostly memory issues. Empathy never crashed on me, that I can remember.
* Empathy is, AFAIK always on. I switch off Slack when not working because (1) it abuses resources and (2) it addds another icon to my toolbar (empathy integrates in Ubuntu's message icon).
* Empathy starts whenever I start my OS. Slack can be configured to do so. But when it does, its slow startup time and CPU-gobbling while starting makes my desktop appear sluggish.
I'm comparing it to a well integrated, thin and snappy XMPP client, which is what Slack replaces for me. And Slack comes out poor. All over.
What many people seem to miss about Slack, is that it isn't a replacement for IM/IRC. It is a replacement for email. (Email is pretty embedded infrastructure though, so it still exists as a lower layer system protocol.)
The reason the UI design of these tools looks like Slack is because they are trying to get some of Slack's thunder. But the wannabes are making the mistake of copying the UI without trying to copy the UX.
I do not give a shit what Slack's buttons look like. I can't do that with IRC. Even if we're all standardized on a modern OSX IRC client, we're still going to end up "sharing" URLs.
Of course, what you mentioned is only one of many things that Just Work in Slack and are at best a pain on IRC, but still.
I do care what Slack looks like though - the chat window has so much wasted whitespace that it doesn't show a lot of comms; add in a space-guzzling integration or two and it gets really hard to follow a conversation. Hipchat uses space a lot more efficiently.
At any rate, on Slack, I once drag-and-dropped a text file with the output of a shell script that a colleague wanted to see. He started telling me how it was strange that the output seemed to cut off right in the middle of a line. lol, just kidding, Slack was just cutting it off like that, since Slack apparently can't show more than the first few K of a text file for some reason SO WHY IS IT SHOWING IT AT ALL ARGH
Not every organization needs this kind of workflow though, so the best available tool depends on what your organization has to integrate. (Disclosure: I've never tried HipChat.)
In MY experience, it is Certainly good UX to not have to learn multiple ways of doing things, one for the in-browser experience, and one for the desktop experience.
Which is also an erroneous statement. I use vi(m) on OSX. vi's UI "does not match the standard appearance and interface of the rest of the operating system."
Thus, I predict that VI has a horrible UX. However, I am incorrect.
Why is this so?
* personal opinion, yes, but it seems quite obviously true.
Otherwise, you have a noisy and unhelpful comment.