In brief: With thousands of people working from home, productivity and communications software suites like Microsoft Teams and Zoom have exploded in popularity. However, Microsoft isn’t happy with its current Teams market share — to entice more users to join its service, the tech giant is offering 24-hours-a-day video calls for free to all, among other updates.
This new feature is coming as part of a broader push to appeal to more ordinary consumers as opposed to business and enterprise customers. Starting now, Teams users can add a personal, non-work account and use it to chat with their friends and family at will.
Most importantly, as we said a moment ago, you can talk “all day” with your friends and family (up to 300, if you have a particularly massive family) through video or audio chats at no cost. Furthermore, you can create a personal or group chat with “up to 250” people, all while syncing your chats across Teams’ desktop and web apps. These new features, and more, are available now in preview for all non-mobile Teams users.
As part of this focus on making Teams more accessible to everyone, not just professional users, Microsoft is also letting you add friends and family to your Teams group chats even if they don’t actually have the app installed. On iOS and Android, you can add someone to a Teams group chat using their phone number.
Then, they’ll be able to both receive and send replies through an SMS conversation. They’ll be missing out on many “rich media messaging” features, but that’s a fair trade-off given the limitations of text messaging.