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Microsoft’s new stand-alone Teams Essentials takes on Slack for smaller groups

Microsoft has announced a new stand-alone version of Teams that is designed for smaller companies and organizations. Dubbed Teams Essentials, the new offering aims to take on Slack and is priced at $4 per person per month.

Even though Microsoft will still offer the free version of Teams, this new option is all about affordability and extended limits for small businesses and organizations. The offering includes several core features, including extended meeting times and large meeting capacity.

With extended meeting times, Teams meetings can last up to 30 hours, and a large meeting capacity means the ability to host up to 300 people per meeting. The other features include integrations with Google Calendar, a group chat template, and the ability to invite people to meetings using just an email address without signing up or signing in. Of course, Team’s meeting lobbies, virtual backgrounds, and together mode are included, too. These are all features that Microsoft says small businesses can use to easily meet, collaborate, and communicate.

Teams Essentials goes beyond meetings and chats too, and includes tools for work such as Office. Access to Office Web apps, file sharing, group chats, and task management is included. The offering has 10GB of file storage, which is double the amount from the free version of Teams. And, unlike the popular free version of Slack, all of Teams’ chats are persistent. You can always go back and see the context of a conversation.

Microsoft is even throwing in a mobile chat dashboard, which is included for customers purchasing Teams Essentials directly from Microsoft. This lets users click dashboard view in any 1:1 or group chat to access shared content neatly organized into categories such as locations, photos, files, task lists, upcoming events.

“The world isn’t going back to the ‘old’ way of working, so small businesses need solutions that are designed specifically for their unique needs to thrive in this new normal. Today we’re excited to introduce Microsoft Teams Essentials,” said Jared Spataro, Microsoft 365 Corporate Vice President.

Small Businesses will be able to purchase Teams Essentials from Microsoft’s Cloud Partners including Crayon, T-Mobile, and Vodafone Business. Worldwide users will be able to buy Teams Essentials directly from Microsoft.

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