Microsoft launches Teams Essentials, a version of Teams for small businesses [Update]

Microsoft launches Teams Essentials, a version of Teams for small businesses [Update]

Microsoft today announced the launch of Microsoft Teams Essentials, a new standalone offering based on Teams designed specifically for small and medium-sized businesses (SMBs). Like many of Microsoft’s products and efforts lately, this service came as a result of the changes that happened in the world in the past year and a half.

Microsoft Teams Essentials includes all the features small businesses need to communicate within the organization. This includes the ability to hold meetings that last up to 30 hours, and meetings can hold up to 300 people at once. This is lower than what standard Teams offers (up to 1,000 users), but it makes perfect sense for smaller businesses. It also includes features you’d already expect from Teams, including calendar integration for Outlook and Google Calendar, group chat templates to make it easy to start a new project, and so on.

Beyond meetings, Teams Essentials also expands on the free version of Teams in terms of chat. While free Teams chats can store up to 5GB of files, Teams Essentials doubles that storage to 10GB, so more files can be shared and remain easily accessible to everyone on the team. It’s also possible to collaborate with other organizations with Teams Essentials so you don’t have to use different apps to communicate with people outside of your own.

Microsoft Teams Essentials is available for $4 per user per month, which Microsoft says is the lowest cost in the market for this kind of communication solution. The goal is for this to be an upgrade over the free version of Teams for businesses that need a little more, without having to spend the full price of a Microsoft 365 subscription with features that potentially aren’t necessary. Microsoft Teams Essentials can be purchased directly from Microsoft or from its many cloud partners.

Microsoft also noted that those using Teams for personal use can get access to some of these features, like the extended meeting limits, by having a Microsoft 365 Personal or Family subscription. This is interesting as up until now there were no differences for customers using the free version of Teams and those with a Microsoft 365 subscription. Officially, Teams for personal use supports meetings with up to 100 people for 60 minutes, or 1:1 meetings up to 24 hours. However, those limits are currently waived so you can have up to 300 people and meetings up to 30 hours as a result of the pandemic.

We questioned Microsoft about this, and it seems like the official limits for the free version of Microsoft Teams are now being reinstated. A Microsoft spokesperson said:

With the introduction of Teams Essentials and our new normal since the pandemic, we are reinstating previous limits. This means one-to-one calls will be free up to 24 hours and, group calls for more than two people will be free for up to 100 participants and 60 minutes. These limits were temporarily waived in 2020.

[UPDATE 12/1/2021 @ 11:22AM] In response to a question from XDA, Microsoft has confirmed that it’s ending the waiver on limits for Microsoft Teams free users. A statement from the company is above.

About author

João Carrasqueira
João Carrasqueira

Editor at XDA Computing. I've been covering the world of technology since 2018, but I've loved the field for a lot longer. And I have a weird affinity for Nintendo videogames, which I'm always happy to talk about.