ok in FFXI Linkshells were pretty muxch guilds...
In FFXIV LSes will be chat channel (basically) while free companies are guilds... sooo why even have linkshells in FFXIV?
XI had to send a lot of external linkshell controls to third party programs, such as the modern Guildworks or the old FFDKP put together by Ismarc of Seraph.
Free Companies will have those kind of tools built in, somewhat, probably through the Lodestone.
Linkshells in XIV are purely chat based and will fill the role that "social" linkshells did in XI. A place to talk and organize spontaneous events. You can belong to up to eight linkshells, I think.
Free Companies will be more like HNM linkshells in FFXI. More formal, with a stricter hierarchy and scheduled events. Edited, Jun 20th 2013 8:08pm by Catwho