What is Microsoft Teams? [The Free Meeting Software Explained]

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Microsoft Teams is free software that allows you to communicate with your colleagues. It has some pretty cool features and is integrated with the rest of Microsoft’s software, making it an attractive email option for people who work on OneDrive or SharePoint a lot. In this article, we will see what Microsoft Teams is and how it works.

Key points to remember:

  • Microsoft Teams is clearly inspired by Slack, although it is by no means a clone. Overall, we think Slack chats better, while Teams is better with video calls.
  • Microsoft Teams’ free plan should be enough for most people, but if you want advanced features, you’ll have to pay.
  • One of the biggest selling points of Teams is its built-in integration with the rest of the Microsoft 365 suite. If you already use other apps like OneDrive or Word, then Teams is a shoo-in.

Overall, we quite like Microsoft Teams, although we feel other collaboration platforms do an equal or even better job. Still, the Teams app has a lot to offer and for some teams it would be a great choice. To find out if you fall into this group, stick with us as we take a quick tour of Microsoft Teams features.

  • Microsoft Teams is a messaging app that lets you communicate and collaborate with team members.

  • Microsoft Teams allows you to message other members of your organization through a chat screen similar to, for example, WhatsApp or Facebook Messenger.

  • Microsoft Teams is incredibly easy to use: just click on the name of the person you want to talk to and you’re halfway done.

  • Yes, Microsoft Teams is free, although the paid version adds a few extra features, like the ability to make calls.

What is Microsoft Teams and who is it for?

Microsoft Teams is Redmond’s answer to Slack, a free app that will let you message and video call with other people on your team – though for anything other than chat, you will need to sign up for the paid version. If you’re familiar with Microsoft 365 or OneDrive (read our OneDrive review), you’ve got an idea of ​​what’s included.

The chat version is pretty good, although nothing we’ve seen before. You can switch between private chats with specific people to group chats with entire teams. Teams can be small groups of people focused on specific tasks or entire departments; it’s entirely up to you.

microsoft teams chat

Microsoft Teams chat isn’t particularly different from most similar apps.

As with other collaboration software, you have the choice of using the web client in your browser – which we did – or installing it on your desktop or mobile devices. It supports all major operating systems including, surprisingly, Linux.

As part of the Microsoft 365 suite, formerly known as Office 365, it’s best suited for teams that already use many other Microsoft products, such as Word, Excel, or even Microsoft To Do. If you’re not as integrated into the Microsoft ecosystem, we’d probably recommend trying Slack instead, as it does what Microsoft Teams does, only better.

Differences with Slack

That’s because we like Slack’s messaging more. Although he and Teams have what’s called threaded and persistent conversations – which is the body language of how chats stay and can get caught up in a subchat – we generally prefer chatting on Slack because it works a bit better, has a nicer font and makes it easier to keep track of different threads.

However, Microsoft Teams has one big advantage over Slack, which is that it allows video calling and screen sharing on the free plan, while Slack doesn’t. If you rely on calls a lot, Teams might be the best choice.

Microsoft Teams features

The main feature of Microsoft Teams is of course the chat. It’s pretty standard fare now, so if you’ve used a messaging app, you’ll find that Microsoft Teams isn’t all that different. You enter messages at the bottom of the screen and see them appear in the main part. What sets Microsoft Teams apart, however, is that it has some nice extras.

Microsoft Teams message bar

All special functions are located just below the main text entry.

For example, you can publicly congratulate team members with just one click, or even create a proposal for team approval. It’s pretty handy for real-time collaboration, but if that’s your goal, you might want to check out our roundup of the best project management software, as these programs offer a lot more bells and whistles. .

Microsoft Teams Approvals

The approval system is a little more practical.

Other than that, you can attach files to messages – like regular file sharing, this should make files appear in your colleagues’ OneDrive – and even embed emojis and GIFs into messages. It’s a pretty comprehensive collaboration platform overall.

Manage team members

Managing Teams users is quite simple. Individual users can be contacted via the “chat” button in the sidebar, while you can message a team with the – you guessed it – “teams” button.

Microsoft Teams adds a new member

This is where you will do most of your team management.

The “teams” page is also where you add new members to your team as well as to Microsoft Teams as a whole – the nomenclature gets confusing. It’s a very simple system, although it’s a little odd that there isn’t a dedicated admin page like Slack. It’s a lot easier than doing it through the squads page, in our opinion.

Video meetings and screen sharing

Once you’ve created teams, you can have video meetings, either with an entire team or just one person. Call quality overall seems good – we’ve had no real issues, anyway – although we don’t like it as much as Zoom.

Still, it does a decent job. Instead of having a video meeting, you also have the option of having an audio conference, perfect for people working from home in their pajamas.

While video chatting, you can always choose to share your screen, which works pretty well. Interestingly enough, Microsoft Teams also lets you share your screen in chat, so call-free. We really like this because it makes it easy to quickly share to explain something and then get right back to what you were doing.

Integration with the Microsoft suite

Probably Microsoft Teams’ greatest strength is as part of the microcosm of Microsoft apps called 365. All programs and apps under this umbrella automatically share data, users, and everything else, making it easy to move from app to app. the other.

Microsoft Teams apps

There are many apps you can integrate with Teams.

While this won’t appeal to everyone – sometimes you don’t want apps talking to each other for privacy reasons – it makes it much easier to start new programs. If you already use many Microsoft programs, Teams will fit right into your strategy.

Microsoft Teams Pricing

There are two versions of Microsoft Teams. The standard program, called Microsoft Teams, is a paid program that is part of the Microsoft 365 subscription. This subscription costs $69.99 per year for one person. This includes all 365 apps, plus 1TB of storage. In all honesty, it’s not a good price because you can get all the features of 365 for free using other better apps.

For example, you can get Microsoft Teams chat for free from Slack, then use Google Drive and get 15GB for free, plus a number of great desktop apps, like Google Docs and Google Sheets (read our review Google Drive for details).

1TB of storage is fine, but if you look at our Icedrive review, you’ll see at least one vendor that offers 1TB for just $50 per year.

If you can share the subscription with someone else, that’s a slightly better deal, as Microsoft 365 Family is just $99.99 per year for up to six users, each getting 1TB of storage. That said, you’re still paying for something that you can get for free elsewhere.

Free version of Microsoft Teams

Fortunately, there is a free version of Microsoft Teams, called Microsoft Teams Free (classic) and yes, the parentheses are part of the name. It’s a stripped-down version of the program, dropping storage capacity to 2GB per user, capping the number of users at 300, and removing much of its functionality – read the full comparison between the two here.

Final Thoughts

Overall, we quite like Microsoft Teams: it’s easy to use and everything is laid out clearly. As a free program, we prefer Slack, although the paid plan has some nice options for video conferencing. Plus, integration with the rest of Microsoft’s software can come in handy.

What do you think of Microsoft Teams? Is it better than Slack? Does it work as well as advertised? Let us know in the comments below and, as always, thanks for reading.

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