Microsoft is making a major play for the small business market – and taking aim at video conferencing rival Zoom – with its new Microsoft Teams Essentials, a standalone edition of the company’s popular collaboration software that the company debuted Wednesday.
Teams Essentials, which carries a $5.50 per user, per month price tag, offers extended meeting times, larger meeting capacity and additional cloud storage compared to the free entry-level edition of Teams.
Teams Essentials is positioned between the free Teams edition and Microsoft 365 Business Basic, which bundles Teams with a complete lineup of Microsoft applications including Outlook, Word, Excel, Exchange, SharePoint, PowerPoint and OneDrive.
Microsoft 365 Business Basic, at $6.90 per user, per month, also includes larger capacities than Teams Essentials, including up to 1 TB of storage per user, and other features such as meeting recording and transcripts.
“While the past 20 months have been challenging for all organizations, I don’t know any that have been hit harder than small businesses,” said Jared Spataro, corporate vice president for Microsoft 365, in a blog post. “They’ve had to adapt nearly every aspect of how they operate and work with customers, often without access to critical tools and technologies.
“The world isn’t going back to the ‘old’ way of working, so small businesses need solutions that are designed specifically for their unique needs to thrive in this new normal,” Spataro said.
Teams Essentials provides core Teams capabilities including group meetings for up to 30 hours, up to 300 participants per meeting and 10 GB of cloud storage per user. It also offers unlimited chat with co-workers and customers, filesharing capabilities, calendaring, phone and web support services, virtual backgrounds, and data encryption for meetings, chats, calls and files.
In addition to targeting small businesses, Teams Essentials is also aiming for increased adoption by non-profit and religious organisations, schools and community groups, Spataro said.
Microsoft is making Teams Essentials available through a number of the vendor’s cloud, distributor and telecommunications partners. Microsoft is also providing the Essentials service directly to subscribers.
Business adoption of Microsoft Teams, which debuted in November 2016, exploded when the COVID-19 pandemic forced millions of people to work from home.
Microsoft added 95 million Teams users in 2020 and as of last month had a total of 145 million active daily users, according to digital experience management company Aternity.