Microsoft’s New Standalone Version Is Even More of a Zoom Competitor

Microsoft Teams Essentials fills the gap for smaller businesses that has existed since Teams launched nearly five years ago. Microsoft clearly sees an opportunity to pick up small businesses that are trying to balance a number of tools that don’t always work well together.

Microsoft Teams Essentials provide access to the core meeting features of Teams without the typical Office app bundling that requires a more expensive Microsoft 365 plan. It will be created by Microsoft and will be its first standalone version of Microsoft Teams for small businesses. This standalone version will be priced at $4 per user per month which makes Teams even more of a Zoom competitor, as Microsoft is dropping its Slack-like channels functionality in favor of a more simplified chat interface and a focus on meetings and video calls.

Jared Spataro, head of Microsoft 365 explains that “it’s the first standalone offering of Microsoft Teams designed specifically with small businesses in mind. It brings together features small businesses need to serve customers, including unlimited group video calls for up to 30 hours, group chat, file sharing and calendaring.”

The differences between Microsoft Teams Essentials and Microsoft 365 Business Basic plans are primarily around Teams functionality and cloud storage. Essentials only offers 10GB of OneDrive storage, compared to the 1TB available on Business Basic. Essentials also lacks meeting recording and transcripts functionality, real-time translation, breakout rooms, and whiteboard integration.

Microsoft Teams Essentials also drops the teams and channels functionality of Teams, so it’s more targeted at businesses that rely on apps like Teams or Zoom for video calling and meetings. Private and group chat will still work in Microsoft Teams Essentials, though.

Nobody has the perfect solution, and Microsoft Teams Essentials lacks the app extensibility to really bring all these separate small business solutions together. Microsoft is including Google Calendar integration into Teams Essentials soon, though, which is an important step in making Teams truly standalone.

Microsoft Teams Essentials is available today direct from Microsoft or through its regular partners and resellers.

Source: https://www.theverge.com/2021/12/1/22811605/microsoft-teams-essentials-price-features-availability