Microsoft has just announced a new product intended to help small businesses. This product, known as Microsoft Teams Essentials, is a modified version of the standard Microsoft Teams platform – a web-conferencing platform intended specifically for Microsoft users.
This plan is specifically intended to help small businesses, as it's the most affordable and accessible option that Microsoft Teams has ever offered. This tier will facilitate 300 call participants and 10GB of cloud storage, as well as some other limited but still hugely useful features.
This new plan is already on the market, selling for $4 per user per month. Compared to the other tiers, the Basic and Standard tiers, which cost $5 and $12 per user per month respectively, this is a new level of accessibility for small businesses that are looking to virtually connect their employees.
What is Microsoft Teams?
Microsoft Teams falls under the umbrella of a web-conferencing app, but it offers a bit more than the likes of Zoom or Google Meet. Microsoft Teams is a bit more like Google Drive – a place where businesses can store and share files, plan events, and meet virtually.
Originally, Microsoft Teams comprised three tiers: the Free tier, the Basic tier, and the Standard tier, each with increasing prices and number of features. However, a fourth tier has been announced and released, known as the Essentials tier, which is intended for smaller businesses. Corporate Vice President for Microsoft 365 Jared Spataro explained the new tier in a blog post:
“While the past 20 months have been challenging for all organizations, I don’t know any that have been hit harder than small businesses. They’ve had to adapt nearly every aspect of how they operate and work with customers, often without access to critical tools and technologies. The world isn’t going back to the ‘old' way of working, so small businesses need solutions that are designed specifically for their unique needs to thrive in this new normal.
“Today we’re excited to introduce Microsoft Teams Essentials. It’s the first standalone offering of Microsoft Teams designed specifically with small businesses in mind”
While the Basic tier was stilstarl decently affordable, costing only one more dollar a month, this new tier makes Teams even more accessible for any businesses looking to t up without investing in a permanent workspace.
What are the main perks of Microsoft Teams Essentials?
While the larger tiers of Microsoft Teams offer a vast array of features and tools, the Essentials tier is a bit barebones. This is by design, of course, as a small business that doesn't need the biggest capacities and the fanciest features wouldn't want to pay premium prices for something they won't be using.
As far as what's included in the Essentials tier, it includes everything in the free tier. This means it has unlimited chatting with coworkers and customers, the ability to share files, set tasks, and create polls, as well as top-of-the-line data encryption for any files and messages within Teams.
As far as what Essentials adds on top of that, you'll be able to hold unlimited meetings, with meetings able to last for up to 30 hours (not that they ever should). These meetings will be able to facilitate up to 300 people. Each user will also be able to store 10GB of files on Microsoft's cloud servers. You'll also be able to use phone and web-based support lines at any time.
While this isn't the widest range of tools, it doesn't really have to be. As mentioned, smaller businesses likely wouldn't get too much use from the features included in the highest tiers (like webinar hosting), so being able to forsake them in order to save a bit of money is a great benefit.
When will Microsoft Teams Essential launch?
At the time of writing this article, Microsoft Teams Essentials is already available for purchase. It costs $4 per user per month, which is paid annually. So, for a business of 10 people, you'd be paying an annual charge of $480 for each of those users to use Teams.
For the cost, this is a very low price when considering the features included. Microsoft Teams is also notorious for a constant stream of updates and added features, so it's possible that investing in this now will net any fledgling business some unforeseen goodies down the road.