Microsoft has unveiled Teams Essentials, a version of Teams aimed at small businesses. It's a standalone product that nestles between the free Teams plan and the features that come with a Microsoft 365 subscription.
Teams Essentials costs $4 per user per month. It includes unlimited group meetings for up to 30 hours and as many as 300 participants, compared with a 60-minute time limit and a maximum of 100 participants on the free plan. Users also get 10GB of cloud storage — twice as much as those on the free tier — and integration with Outlook and (soon) Google calendars.
Other features from the free tier are included, such as access to Office web apps, chats with colleagues and customers, file sharing, polls and group projects. Meetings, chats, calls and files are all encrypted. Users can send meeting invites to someone who doesn't have a Teams account — they just need that person's email address. Virtual backgrounds for calls, Together mode (which displays attendees in the same virtual space) and live closed captions are also available.
It's a little less expensive than Microsoft 365 Business Basic, which costs $5/month per user (increasing to $6 in March), but the savings can add up. That plan's features include meeting transcripts, real-time translations, mobile versions of Office apps and 1TB of cloud storage per person.
Teams Essentials is available from Microsoft's cloud partners or directly from the company.