Microsoft is making a big push to entice fans of Zoom over to Microsoft Teams with a new all-day video calling option that can be used for free. While the software giant launched Microsoft Teams for consumers on mobile earlier this year, it’s now bringing Teams’ friends and family features to the desktop and web allowing you to create a Microsoft Teams meeting for up to 300 friends and family that can run all day free of charge.
You won’t need a Microsoft Account or the Microsoft Teams app to join calls, as you can join free via a web browser. Microsoft Teams will also support seeing up to 49 friends or family members in a gallery view or through its Together Mode feature that puts you side by side in a virtual environment.
With Thanksgiving just a week away, it’s clear Microsoft is positioning Teams as a way for families to connect virtually during the pandemic. That’s particularly relevant, as officials at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have recommend that people should not travel for Thanksgiving. Zoom surged in popularity earlier this year after thousands of people flocked to the video calling service to connect to coworkers, fellow students, or even friends and family.
Teams might be a little late to the consumer party, but with a long 24-hour limit on meeting length and an easy to use web app it suddenly looks like Microsoft is offering the best way (until it imposes limits) to connect with friends and family free of charge. Zoom has its own 40-minute limit, which the company is lifting temporarily for Thanksgiving, and other competitors like Google Meet (60-minute limit) and Cisco Webex (50-minute limit) also have similar restrictions. Microsoft had been trying to push Skype Meet Now for this previously, but everyone has mostly forgotten Skype exists.
To get started as a meeting host all you need to do is visit Microsoft’s new Teams web link and sign in with a Microsoft Account. Once you’ve created a video meeting you can simply share the link with friends and family, and they’ll be able to join via the web free of charge without needing a Microsoft Account.