The popularity of Microsoft Teams, the team communication app in Microsoft 365, has risen dramatically during the pandemic. In March of 2020, the platform had 32 million daily active users (DAU), and by April of 2021, that number had jumped to 145 million.
There are a few reasons for the rise. One is the move to remote teams and the need to keep everyone working from home connected. Another is the fact that Microsoft has been adding a lot of MS Teams features to make the platform more robust than many of its video conferencing and team chat competitors.
Some of the core features of Microsoft teams that have attracted small and large business users alike are:
- Channeled team messaging
- Video and audio conferencing
- Integrations with Word, Excel, PowerPoint, and other MS apps
- 3rd party app integrations
- Presence indicators and message alerts
- Easy file sharing
- Channel security so only approved team members can access content
- Cloud file storage
- And more
You can’t really compare Microsoft Teams directly to something like video conferencing app Zoom or team messaging tool Slack because it combines the qualities of both of those types of apps.
It’s a more robust platform designed to be a complete unified communications hub to power today’s remote and hybrid teams.
Until now, there have been two main ways to use Teams:
- Through a Microsoft 365 business subscription
- Using the Free version, which has fewer features
For some smaller businesses, purchasing a Microsoft 365 subscription just didn’t make sense for their budget. The free version is great, but it does have some limitations.
Now, Microsoft is filling the gap with a Teams plan designed especially for small businesses.
Introducing Microsoft Teams Essentials
Microsoft Teams Essentials was introduced in December of 2021 and it is designed to fill the gap between the free version of Teams and the paid version you get with an M365 business subscription.
It’s the first standalone version of Teams that was created specifically for the needs of small businesses. It offers more options than the free version but comes with a low price tag of just $4 per user per month.
Here are some of the ways that Microsoft Teams Essentials differs from the other versions.
What Teams Essentials Has That Free Teams Doesn’t
Unlimited Group Meetings for up to 30 hours
With the free version of MS Teams, you can only have an unlimited group meeting for up to 60 minutes. When meeting with a large number of people, those interactions tend to be longer than an hour in many cases.
With the Essentials version of Teams, you can have unlimited group meetings for as long as 30 hours, increasing flexibility for hosting large virtual events and meetings.
Up to 300 Participants per Meeting
While a small business may not have 300 staff members, there are likely times when they want to host a virtual event (something Teams facilitates) and attract as many people as possible.
With the free version of MS Teams, you are limited to up to 100 participants per meeting. That number triples to 300 per meeting when using Microsoft Teams Essentials.
Double the Cloud Storage Space per User
File sharing and collaboration are some of the main activities in any virtual team communication space. It’s not only easier to collaborate on files rather than emailing them back and forth, but it also improves time efficiency.
When people collaborate with online files, each person saves an average of 100 minutes per week
With the free version of Teams, each user gets up to 5 GB of cloud storage space, which can quickly get filled up when working with larger file sizes, as found in presentations and graphics or video-rich content.
That amount of space doubles with the paid version. Teams Essentials gives each user 10 GB of cloud storage space.
Anytime Phone & Web Support
As most people know, you typically give up some customer support when you opt for a free version of a software over a paid one. You may not be able to reach anyone over the phone and have to spend time searching an FAQ for answers.
Included in the $4/user/month Teams Essential plan comes anytime phone and web support. This can be a big time-saver for small businesses and help them ensure smooth adoption of the platform among their staff.
What M365 Teams Has That Teams Essentials Doesn’t
Transcripts of Team Meeting Recordings
One of the things you miss out on when going with Teams Essentials instead of a paid M365 business subscription, such as Business Basic for $5/user/month, is to have your recordings of team meetings automatically transcribed.
Web & Mobile Versions of Office apps
If you subscribe to Microsoft 365 Business Basic, you can access the mobile versions of the Office apps (Word, Excel, PowerPoint, Outlook). For desktop versions, you would need to move up to something like Business Standard ($12.50/user/month)
Cloud Storage of 1 TB Per User
Storage per user jumps to 1 TB when you move up to a full Microsoft 365 business plan.
Get Your Team Connected Effectively With Help from Rocky Knoll
Rocky Knoll Technologies can help your Charlotte area business improve the way your team communicates with each other and your customers.
Schedule a consultation by calling 704.594.7292 or reach us online.