Image: A woman using Microsoft Teams Essentials looks happy about the new lower-priced option.

New Microsoft Teams Essentials Competes with Zoom

Video calls are now a commonplace part of our lives. From work to school and every kind of virtual meeting in between, we’ve done a lot of them in the past couple years. For many people, Zoom is what they’re most familiar with—it quickly rose to household fame when everyone scrambled to adopt remote practices at the beginning of the pandemic. Unfortunately there were a number of Zoom hacks and security issues that the platform came with, but its ease of use and instant familiarity helped it stick. It’s still a leading video conferencing platform around the world. But that could change—announced this month, Microsoft Teams Essentials offers a new tier of its videoconference offerings at a much better price than Zoom’s.

Microsoft Teams Essentials

Teams Essentials fills in the spot between Microsoft’s free videoconferencing option and its most popular Business Basic account, which is its most widely used one. What Teams Essentials adds to the free version is a very generous meeting time of up to 30 hours and the ability to host 300 participants per meeting, up from 100. It also comes with 10 GB of cloud storage per user as well as phone and web support. At the moment it’s only a dollar less per user/month than the Business Basic version, but for some small organizations who really just need these essentials, this might be appealing. (Plus, that price difference will change to $2 in March 2022—for those who were dismayed by or unable to afford the licensing price increases Microsoft recently announced, Teams Essentials could provide the videoconferencing and cloud storage capabilities at that lower price point.)

New Microsoft Teams Essentials Competes with Zoom 1

It’s good to note that Microsoft Teams Essentials is a standalone product. For some that aren’t interested in the Microsoft 365 suite, the desire for the simplicity of a product geared just at videoconferencing may have previously kept them away from Teams. Once you go to the Business Basic and Business Standard accounts, that’s where you get integration with Microsoft 365 and the web, mobile, and/or desktop versions of the Office apps in that suite. The comparison below shows the details of what each plan offers. (Note that the Business Basic subscription will go up to $6 per user/month starting March 1.)

New Microsoft Teams Essentials Competes with Zoom 2

Comparing Microsoft Teams with Zoom

Whichever tier best fits your organization, Teams offers very competitive alternatives to Zoom. To compare, check out Zoom’s pricing options:

New Microsoft Teams Essentials Competes with Zoom 3

If you need more than what the free version includes, the first pricing option is a whopping $15 per user/month compared to Teams Essentials’ $4. One feature listed in Zoom’s chart is the ability to increase the participants up to 1,000—although you have to look a little further so see that it’s an additional $90/user/month for that increase. Without opting in to that addition, you can only host 100 participants. That’s right—for nearly four times the price you can host 1/3 of the participants and get 1/10 of the cloud storage.

Will This Be Zoom’s Downfall?

Some predict that Zoom will have little choice but to reduce its prices and thereby diminish its profit margins as well. Already in the first day that Microsoft announced Teams Essentials, Zoom’s stock prices quickly fell. Without the edge it’s enjoyed thus far, it will be hard to compete with a giant and well-established company like Microsoft. On the other hand, Teams has always offered more (with better security) for a lower price, and Zoom is still dominant up to this point. Sometimes choices like these are made out of habit or mainstream trends more than the value itself. But if you’re looking for a trustworthy videoconferencing platform with plenty of capabilities and you’re not interested in the Microsoft 365 bundle, Teams Essentials is a great option. Compared to Zoom’s equivalent Pro version, it’s really no contest.

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