Microsoft has created a standalone version of the Teams video conferencing app for the first time ever. The company says that the new app, called Teams Essentials, is designed specifically for small businesses (SMBs) and will cost them ₹100 per person, per month. It offers access to some of the ‘essential’ features of Teams without requiring businesses to subscribe to the company’s entire Office suite.
“We know how difficult the past 20 months have been for small businesses. They’ve had to demonstrate extreme flexibility to adapt, often with limited access to tools and technology,” said Jared Spataro, corporate vice president of Modern Work at Microsoft. “Teams Essentials is built specifically to meet the unique needs of small businesses, enabling them to thrive in this new era of work,” he added.
Microsoft Teams Essentials features
With Teams Essentials, SMBs will be able to have unlimited group meetings for up to 30 hours, with up to 300 people at a time. They will also get 10GB of cloud storage per user, and a simplified chat interface. The free version of the app will also allow users to join meetings without requiring a sign in and meetings will continue working through web browsers too.
In addition, the app will also sync with Outlook and Google Calendars, allowing meetings to be scheduled. While Outlook Calendar integration is available from day one, Google Calendar will be added “soon”, the company said. Meeting lobbies, virtual backgrounds and artificial intelligence (AI) powered live closed captions are also available.
Unlike Google Meet and Zoom, which are both available as standalone services, Microsoft Teams has so far with part of the company’s Microsoft 365 plans. Teams Essentials makes Microsoft’s video conferencing service a real competitor to Zoom and Meet for the first time. Zoom offers its enterprise plans at Rs. 1300 per month for nine users, while Google Meet is priced at Rs. 125 per user per month.