Microsoft Teams is a collaboration tool, similar to Slack, that offers IRC-style chat rooms for teams. With it, you can chat, share documents, or make video and voice calls. It is an excellent tool for teams of all sizes, especially for those that are not working in the same place. However, Slack had something which Microsoft Teams did not: a free version for small and mid-size businesses. In response, Microsoft announced a free version of Microsoft Teams and some exciting new features. Here is what it has to offer, and why you may want to give it a try:
What is included in the free version of Microsoft Teams?
The new free version of Microsoft Teams is designed for small and midsize businesses. The product is built on top of Microsoft's global secure infrastructure, and it brings together chat, meetings, files, and apps. It is also integrated with Office, Skype, and SharePoint - critical products in Microsoft's portfolio for business users.
The free version includes the following distinguishing features:
- Unlimited chat, search and app integrations
- Integrated audio and video calling (both one to one, and groups)
- 10 GB of storage space for the whole team, and 2 GB of individual storage for each person
- Built-in Office Online. You can edit files online, in web apps like Word, Excel or PowerPoint
- It works with people in or outside of your organization
- It is available globally, in forty languages
- You can set up Microsoft Teams, for free, for up to 300 people
In contrast, the free Slack plan has a limit on searchable messages (10.000 of your team's most recent messages), and it is limited to only ten integrations. Also, it does not allow for group calling. Microsoft Teams does not have these limits. You can compare the two free services, and all their features and limitations, here: Microsoft Teams vs. Slack For Teams.
Microsoft is also promoting an upcoming feature in Microsoft Teams, that will be available both in the free and paid plans: background blur for video conversations. It is a useful feature for people who work from home or when they travel and allows them to mask the mess around them. You can see a demo of this feature in the video presentation below, which takes you through all the features of Microsoft Teams.
Microsoft also decided to integrate its translation technology that was first demoed in Skype, to improve collaboration in multi-language teams. The feature is available right now for paying customers, and will be available later for the free accounts. Paying customers now also enjoy automatic recording and transcription of video calls.
What do you think of the free Microsoft Teams service?
We like Microsoft's decision to offer a free plan for Microsoft Teams, and the fact that it has more features the Slack and fewer limitations. Before closing this news article, let us know what you think, in the comments below. Do you like Microsoft's direction with Teams? Will you consider trying this service?