Microsoft is launching the personal version of Microsoft Teams today. After previewing the service nearly a year ago, Microsoft Teams is now available for free personal use amongst friends and families. The service itself is almost identical to the Microsoft Teams that businesses use, and it will allow people to chat, video call, and share calendars, locations, and files easily.
Microsoft is also continuing to offer everyone free 24-hour video calls that it introduced in the preview version in November. You’ll be able to meet up with up to 300 people in video calls that can last for 24 hours. Microsoft will eventually enforce limits of 60 minutes for group calls of up to 100 people after the pandemic, but keep 24 hours for 1:1 calls.
While the preview initially launched on iOS and Android, Microsoft Teams for personal use now works across the web, mobile, and desktop apps. Microsoft is also allowing Teams personal users to enable its Together mode — a feature that uses AI to segment your face and shoulders and place you together with other people in a virtual space. Skype got this same feature back in December.
Speaking of Skype, Microsoft hasn’t announced any plans to replace Skype with Microsoft Teams on the consumer side yet. Microsoft said it was “fully committed to Skype” last year when it launched the preview of this personal version of Microsoft Teams, but the rise of Zoom during the pandemic certainly highlighted Skype’s irrelevance amongst consumers.
As we noted last year, the personal version of Microsoft Teams is part of a broader effort by Microsoft to remain relevant with consumers after a series of exits from consumer-friendly services. Microsoft isn’t looking to compete with iMessage, Facebook Messenger, WhatsApp, or other chat apps, but it’s clear Zoom is in the company’s sights after its huge rise with consumers during the pandemic.