Sunday, January 23, 2022

Microsoft Teams Essentials is a new standalone version for small businesses

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Microsoft is creating its first standalone version of Microsoft Teams for small businesses. Microsoft Teams Essentials will likely be priced at $4 per person monthly and supply entry to the core assembly options of Teams with out the everyday Office app bundling that requires a dearer Microsoft 365 plan. This standalone version makes Teams much more of a Zoom competitor, as Microsoft is dropping its Slack-like channels performance in favor of a extra simplified chat interface and a deal with conferences and video calls.

“It’s the first standalone offering of Microsoft Teams designed specifically with small businesses in mind,” explains Jared Spataro, head of Microsoft 365. “It brings together features small businesses need to serve customers, including unlimited group video calls for up to 30 hours, group chat, file sharing and calendaring.”

Microsoft Teams Essentials fills the hole for smaller businesses that has existed since Teams launched practically 5 years in the past. Until now, small businesses have had to decide on the Microsoft 365 Business Basic plan — priced at $5 per person monthly and growing to $6 in March — or rivals like Zoom, Slack, Google Workspace, and extra.

Microsoft Teams Essentials has all of the common Teams calling options.
Image: Microsoft

The variations between Microsoft Teams Essentials and Microsoft 365 Business Basic plans are primarily round Teams performance and cloud storage. Essentials solely affords 10GB of OneDrive storage, in comparison with the 1TB obtainable on Business Basic. Essentials additionally lacks assembly recording and transcripts performance, real-time translation, breakout rooms, and whiteboard integration.

Microsoft Teams Essentials additionally drops the groups and channels performance of Teams, so it’s extra focused at businesses that depend on apps like Teams or Zoom for video calling and conferences. Private and group chat will nonetheless work in Microsoft Teams Essentials, although.

Microsoft is focusing on smaller businesses which have relied on Zoom all through the pandemic right here. Zoom is a competitor that the software program maker identified as an “emerging threat” final yr, and providing a standalone version of Teams appears like a massive step in competing with Zoom and even Google’s Workspace push.

“The pandemic and acceleration of using video calling and virtual tools changed overnight,” explains Nicole Herskowitz, basic supervisor for Microsoft Teams, in an interview with The Verge. “We’re seeing at this point in time a lot of small businesses saying ‘What’s my future model?’ They’re almost doing a broader rethink, and many of them kind of raced to pick up tools very quickly to just stay afloat, and now they’re looking at their long-term strategy to engaging better with customers, with employees.”

Microsoft Teams Essentials will quickly embrace Google Calendar integration.
Image: Microsoft

Microsoft clearly sees a possibility to select up small businesses which might be attempting to stability a variety of instruments that don’t at all times work effectively collectively. If you’re a part of a small enterprise proper now, you would possibly use Zoom for video calls, Slack for group chat, after which Google Workspace for electronic mail and calendar. Google has been centralizing its chat and communications apps into Gmail all through the pandemic and opening Google Workspace up for everybody to make use of. Slack has app integrations that attempt to make these separate apps extra seamless to make use of.

Nobody has the proper answer, and Microsoft Teams Essentials lacks the app extensibility to actually carry all these separate small enterprise options collectively. Microsoft is together with Google Calendar integration into Teams Essentials quickly, although, which is an necessary step in making Teams actually standalone.

If you’re a small enterprise weighing the price of Zoom, Google Workspace, Slack, and different instruments, Microsoft Teams Essentials may look interesting at simply $4 per person monthly, particularly when a Zoom Pro license is $14.99 monthly.

Microsoft Teams Essentials is obtainable at this time direct from Microsoft or by way of its common companions and resellers.

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