What is Microsoft Teams?
Microsoft Teams is a video communication software tool with more than 100 million daily active users. Microsoft Teams is part of the Office 365 suite of products and is therefore a popular software solution with companies who already use Microsoft Outlook and Microsoft OneDrive. Teams will automatically sync up with Outlook and the other Office 365 tools.
By the end of July of 2021, Microsoft Teams will replace Skype for Business.
Table of Contents
- What is Microsoft Teams?
- Microsoft Teams Review Summary
- Microsoft Teams Pricing & Cost
- Microsoft Teams Key Features
- Microsoft Teams Customer Support
- Microsoft Teams vs. Competitors
- Is Microsoft Teams Right For You?
Microsoft Teams Review Summary
Microsoft Teams is part of the Office 365 suite of software tools. The Teams product was released in 2017. Microsoft acquired Skype in 2011, and the previous “Skype for Business” product has morphed into Microsoft Teams.
With 145 million active users, Microsoft Teams is one of the most popular video conferencing and communication software platforms for small businesses. The free software includes features like online meetings, chat, and cloud storage. Paid plans only start once you upgrade to the Office 365 suite of tools, meaning that businesses will receive high-quality communication software for free.
One of the most frustrating aspects of Microsoft Teams is the prompt to install the application onto your desktop, which can prevent users from quickly joining from their browser. Overall, however, if your team already uses any Office 365 products, Microsoft Teams is the most logical choice of video conferencing software platforms.
Microsoft Teams Pricing & Cost
Microsoft Teams is entirely free if you choose it as a standalone product. If you decide to implement a bundle of multiple Office 365 products, you’ll pay either $5 or $12.50 per user per month with an annual contract.
|Free||Includes Microsoft Teams|
|Microsoft 365 Business Basic||$5 per user per month|
|Microsoft 365 Business Standard||$12.50 per user per month|
Microsoft Teams Key Features
Throughout this review, we’ll discuss Microsoft Teams and mention any benefits or drawbacks regarding features, usability, and customer service availability. We’ll also include real images of the software to give you a sense of what it’s like to use the platform. Our expert recommendations about who each tool is best for will be included throughout.
To learn more about how we research and rate software tools, as well as our review criteria, read about SoftwarePundit’s review methodology.
Organizations and Meetings
When you first sign up with Microsoft Teams, you’ll immediately be presented with a unique link that you can use to invite team members to your organization.
You can also add individuals after the fact, as well as add them to your different chats, teams, and channels.
From this dashboard, you can start video calls instantly. These calls can either be with individuals already in your organization or with participants you add one by one.
Microsoft Teams includes the crucial features required of video conferencing software, including screen sharing, remote control, breakout rooms, and chat and file sharing during meetings. Microsoft Teams also has a 24-hour meeting duration on the paid plans.
Microsoft Teams customers can either start a call instantaneously, with the button in the top-right corner, or can schedule meetings for the future. These meetings can be one-time or recurring.
Meetings can be named, and you can copy the invites and send them to both anonymous attendees as well as members of your organization.
For a free software platform, Microsoft Teams has a fairly high participant limit at 100 participants. For comparison, Skype only allows 50 participants in a call at once, while Zoom also allows for 100 participants on the free plan.
Many small businesses will be able to function within this 100-participant limit for meetings. If more participants are needed for a more formal presentation-style video call, Teams webinars can be utilized for up to 1,000 participants.
Screen sharing is a crucial video conferencing tool that allows users to broadcast their computer screens to the entire video call. This helps for sharing collaborative projects, conducting product demos, and more. You can share:
- Your entire screen
- A specific window
- A particular tab
During a call, you can chat with either all participants or with individual participants. After a call ends, participants within the organization will be able to see a transcript of all the actions that occurred during the call as well as all messages that were sent.
Messages can be sent after the fact as well. Other actions that can be taken include:
Microsoft Teams allows users to project virtual backgrounds in their videos, which will hide the true background behind them. Many employees enjoy features like this to protect their privacy while working from home.
Teams webinars can support up to 1,000 attendees, which is significantly less compared with competitors like Zoom, which can host up to 10,000 attendees. However, Teams webinars are fully functional and allow for the following to occur:
- One or multiple presenters
- Engagement with audience members
- Poll questions
- Content, video, and audio sharing
- Breakout rooms
Presenters can make a recording of the webinar available to attendees once the event has ended.
Security is one of the most important features when it comes to your business meetings online. Microsoft Teams enables users to prevent anonymous users from joining meetings, create custom meeting invitations for their licensed users, and enable or disable participants from sharing audio or video content.
Microsoft Teams diverges from the standard of other video conferencing software because Teams meetings cannot be password-protected. While you can’t password-protect meetings, you can set a restriction that anonymous users must be individually approved to enter the meeting.
“Lobby” is the term that Microsoft Teams uses for their waiting rooms. Almost all other video conferencing software tools allow for meetings to be password-protected, but Teams just has a lobby where anonymous users must wait until they are admitted to the meeting.
As you can see in the image below, the lobby is on the right-hand side of the screen. Those within the organization will see when individuals are in the lobby, and can choose to either deny entrance or admit them to the meeting.
Admitted users can view the lobby attendees, where they’ll be able to individually admit attendees one by one.
Participant Action Restrictions
Preventing participants from sharing content can be crucial to keep your video conference calls running smoothly. Microsoft Teams customers can disable screen sharing, turn off recording, block applications, and more.
The default setting for most of these actions is enabled, meaning that most behaviors are allowed by default. If you want to restrict participants to certain actions, make sure to go through these one by one while you’re setting up meetings.
Microsoft Teams has a Call feature that allows you to call your contacts via their phone numbers. Within this section, you have a list of contacts that you can either voice or video call with just a few clicks.
You can configure a voicemail and have all calls forwarded to that voicemail if you would like to do so.
Microsoft Teams Customer Support
Customers complain that Microsoft Teams does not have adequate customer support. Given that Microsoft is a massive company, it can be tedious to get in touch with a department that can actually help resolve issues. The customer support avenues are explained below.
|Customer Support Channels||Online Form, Phone|
|Other Support Resources||Training Videos, Tip Articles, How-To Help Center, Community|
|Application Status Page||Yes|
Microsoft Teams Alternatives & Competitors
Microsoft Teams competes with many popular video conferencing software tools. A list of alternatives can be found below.
For an article that compares Microsoft Teams to all its competitors at once, read the Microsoft Teams Competitors & Alternatives article.
We've written articles that directly compare Microsoft Teams to its competitors. Some one-to-one comparisons can be found below:
Is Microsoft Teams Right For You?
If you already utilize Microsoft 365 products for your small business, Microsoft Teams is the natural choice and will smoothly integrate with your current suite of tools. The product allows for 100 meeting participants and has all the basic video conferencing features most businesses will need.
Compared with Google Meet, Microsoft Teams is a bit clunkier to use. However, we found it to be relatively on par with Zoom in terms of usability, and it’s more modern than Skype. It should be the go-to video conferencing tool if your team already uses Office 365.
If you are interested in trying Microsoft Teams, sign up here.