Free, personal version of Microsoft Teams takes on Zoom with all-day video calls
Microsoft on Monday launched the personal version of Teams, its video chat and collaboration software that competes with services like Zoom and Google Meet. The free software is similar to the business version of Microsoft Teams, which is included in an Office 365 subscription, and includes video calls, group chats and tools that help you make shared to-do lists and tasks.
Microsoft Teams will let you make one-on-one video calls and speak for up to 24 hours. The company has also waived some restrictions around groups video calls amid the coronavirus pandemic, so you can meet with up to 300 people for up to 24 hours. Eventually, free group calls will be limited to up to 100 people for one hour, though Microsoft didn't specify when that would kick in.
People will also be able to use Together Mode in Microsoft Teams, which digitally places people on a video call into a shared background. Microsoft said it added new backgrounds such as family lounge, coffee shop and summer resort.
Video chat and conferencing services like Microsoft Teams, Google Meet and Zoom have exploded in use over the past year due the pandemic. Even as life begins to return to normal for some amid the vaccine rollout, many people have come to rely on the services to work from home and stay connected with family and friends.
"From online calls that will make you feel like you're in the same place as your loved ones to group chats that will make coordinating plans with your loved ones a breeze, these personal features in Teams are designed to bring you closer to the people you care about so that you can call, chat, plan, and organize things big and small-together in one place," wrote Liat Ben-Zur, corporate vice president at Microsoft, in a blog post about the personal features in Microsoft Teams.
Microsoft Teams is available via desktop app and web browser, and there are mobile apps for Android and iOS.