The Microsoft tool for collaborating and chatting in real-time “Teams” has been around for a little while already. It was primarily available for users on their Office 365 plan who could then easily integrate it with all their work they are doing in other parts of the service, such as SharePoint, Planner, Yammer or the classic tools such as Word, Excel, and PowerPoint. Now they have also introduced a free plan, or “freemium” if you want to call it like that, with most functions already included.
Microsoft Teams now with a free plan
This is of course not only to put pressure on competitors such as Slack, Atlassian Stride, or Cisco Webex Teams (formerly known as Cisco Spark, but yes, now has the same name as the Microsoft solution). They also want to keep existing customers where they are and not have them look for alternate solutions just to end up in another company’s collaboration technology ecosystem. After they planned to stop working on Skype For Business just to expand Microsoft Teams, introducing a free plan for all made sense.
The offering of the free Microsoft Teams plan is really fine, not only for startups but also for many SMBs I could imagine. Of course, as the organizations grow and mature, they will sooner or later look into the premium plans, but to all who don’t need any of these premium features, this free version is a great help. Please find below what exactly is offered for free and what is not in Microsoft’s comparison matrix from their product site.
Feature overview and comparison
|Microsoft Teams free (preview)||Office 365 Business Essentials||Office 365 Business Premium|
|Price||$0 (no commitment)||$5.00 user/ month (annual commitment)||$12.50 user/ month (annual commitment)|
|Unlimited messages and search||✔||✔||✔|
|300 maximum users||✔||✔||✔|
|Word, Excel, PowerPoint, and OneNote apps in Teams||✔||✔||✔|
|Exchange email hosting and custom email domain||✔||✔|
|OneDrive, SharePoint, Planner, Yammer, and more Office 365 services||✔||✔|
|140+ integrated apps and services||✔||✔||✔|
|File storage||2 GB/user and 10 GB of shared storage||1 TB/user||1 TB/user|
|1:1 and group online audio and video calls||✔||✔||✔|
|Meeting recording— available with Microsoft Stream||✔||✔|
|Phone calls and audio conferencing||Only as add-on|
|Availability in more than 150 markets and 35 languages||✔||✔||✔|
|Security and compliance|
|Region-based data residency||✔||✔||✔|
|Data encryption at rest and in transit||✔||✔||✔|
|Enforced multi-factor authentication for all users||✔||✔|
|Single sign-on to all business apps and services||✔||✔|
|Advanced auditing and reporting||✔||✔|
|Administration and support|
|24/7 phone and web support||✔|
|Admin tools for managing users and apps||✔||✔|
|Usage reporting for Office 365 services||✔||✔|
|99.9% financially-backed SLA uptime||✔||✔|
|Configurable user settings and policies||✔||✔|
Planning for more?
Using Microsoft Teams has a slightly less “Microsofty” feeling to it in my opinion. Somehow, I feel a little bit like I am working in a software that was developed by Facebook. Most certainly this is just my own opinion and perception of the UI and overall UX, but I wanted to share it with you as well. Perhaps this young look and feel could also make the solution interesting for usage in the education sector. Having classes and students communicate over Microsoft Teams could mean an improvement on various angles.
Microsoft Teams is available on Windows, Mac OS, Android, iOS and can be run in the browser as web app if you’re not on your personal system. Well, now you got nothing to lose and can try out Microsoft Teams for free. If you happen to test it, make sure to share your review and test results below in the comments. Many thanks!
YouTube: Microsoft Teams free version