Technology

Microsoft Teams Essentials is a new standalone version for small businesses

Microsoft is creating its first standalone version of Microsoft Teams for small businesses. Microsoft Teams Essentials will likely be priced at $4 per consumer per 30 days and supply entry to the core assembly options of Teams with out the everyday Workplace 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 concentrate on conferences and video calls.

“It’s the primary standalone providing of Microsoft Teams designed particularly with small businesses in thoughts,” explains Jared Spataro, head of Microsoft 365. “It brings collectively options small businesses have to serve clients, together with limitless group video calls for as much as 30 hours, group chat, file sharing and calendaring.”

Microsoft Teams Essentials fills the hole for smaller businesses that has existed since Teams launched almost 5 years in the past. Till now, small businesses have had to decide on the Microsoft 365 Enterprise Primary plan — priced at $5 per consumer per 30 days 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.

Picture: Microsoft

The variations between Microsoft Teams Essentials and Microsoft 365 Enterprise Primary plans are primarily round Teams performance and cloud storage. Essentials solely provides 10GB of OneDrive storage, in comparison with the 1TB accessible on Enterprise Primary. 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. Personal and group chat will nonetheless work in Microsoft Teams Essentials, although.

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

“The pandemic and acceleration of utilizing video calling and digital instruments modified in a single day,” explains Nicole Herskowitz, common supervisor for Microsoft Teams, in an interview with The Verge. “We’re seeing at this time limit a lot of small businesses saying ‘What’s my future mannequin?’ They’re nearly doing a broader rethink, and plenty of of them form of raced to select up instruments in a short time to only keep afloat, and now they’re taking a look at their long-term technique to partaking higher with clients, with workers.”

Microsoft Teams Essentials will quickly embrace Google Calendar integration.

Picture: Microsoft

Microsoft clearly sees a chance to select up small businesses which can be making an attempt to stability a variety of instruments that don’t all the time work nicely collectively. If you happen to’re a part of a small enterprise proper now, you may use Zoom for video calls, Slack for group chat, after which Google Workspace for e-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.

No person has the right answer, and Microsoft Teams Essentials lacks the app extensibility to actually deliver 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 happen to’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 consumer per 30 days, particularly when a Zoom Professional license is $14.99 per 30 days.

Microsoft Teams Essentials is available today direct from Microsoft or by means of its common companions and resellers.

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