Microsoft releases free version of Teams: So we all can call, chat and collaborate

A free version of Teams, the collaboration tool used by hundreds of thousands of businesses across the world, has been released by Microsoft.

The program brings together chat, meetings, calling, files and apps in a shared workspace and will be available in 40 languages for up to 300 people.

The move comes ahead of Inspire, Microsoft’s annual partner conference, in Las Vegas, Nevada, from July 15 to 19.

The free version of Teams, part of Microsoft 365, will feature:

  • Unlimited chat messages and search
  • Built-in audio and video calling for individuals, groups and full team meetups
  • 10 gigabytes (GB) of team file storage plus additional 2GB per person for personal storage
  • Integrated, real-time content creation with Office Online apps, including built-in Word, Excel, PowerPoint and OneNote
  • Unlimited app integrations with 140+ business apps to choose from – including Adobe, Evernote and Trello
  • Ability to communicate and collaborate with anyone inside or outside your organisation, backed by Microsoft’s secure, global infrastructure

“This new offering provides a powerful introduction to Microsoft 365,” Ron Markezich, Corporate Vice-President for Microsoft, wrote in a blog post. “Teams in Microsoft 365 includes everything in the free version plus additional storage, enterprise security, and compliance, and it can be used for your whole organisation, regardless of size. Whether you’re a freelancer, a small business owner, or part of a team inside a large organization, you can start using Teams today.”

READ the BLOG: 4 new ways Microsoft 365 takes the work out of teamwork—including free version of Microsoft Teams

To mark a year since the launch of Microsoft 365, Markezich also revealed that seats on the service have grown by more than 100%, building on the more than 135 million commercial monthly Office 365 users, 200 million Windows 10 commercial devices in use and over 65 million seats of Enterprise Mobility + Security.

Other announcements included the ability to create live and on-demand events in Microsoft 365. Using the company’s AI technology, users can now take advantage of a speaker timeline, which detects faces to identify who is talking, so you can easily jump to a particular speaker in the event; speech-to-text transcription, timecoding and transcript search, so you can quickly find moments that matter in a recording; and closed captions to make the event more accessible to all.

A new Workplace Analytics solution “uses collaboration insights from the Microsoft Graph, to help teams run efficient meetings, create time for focused work, and respect work/life boundaries”, Markezich wrote. Microsoft 365 can also “nudge” users to tell them that they’re emailing colleagues after office hours or suggesting they book focused work time for themselves.

Finally, Microsoft Whiteboard is now available for Windows 10 and is coming soon to iOS. The new app lets work together in person and remotely across multiple devices. Using pen, touch and keyboard, they can write notes, create tables, shapes and freeform drawings, and search and insert images from the web.

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