Microsoft Teams have been one of the prime options for online webinars, meetings, chats, and other types of unified communication requirements.
However, for small businesses which are struggling with their budget, opting for the premium features of Microsoft Premium may not be sometimes feasible.
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Microsoft seems to have understood the fact, and that is exactly why it has launched a new plan for Microsoft Teams. Labeled Microsoft teams Essentials, it is designed to meet the communication needs of small businesses.
Let us try finding the fundamental differences between Microsoft Teams Essentials and Premium to understand what you stand to gain.
Microsoft Essentials can be an ideal option for small businesses. It is the first-ever standalone product from the Microsoft Teams bundle that promises to offer a professional quality, affordable meeting solution for providing you with unrestricted online meetings and chats.
It should be one of the unique solutions for providing access to effective collaboration, connection, and productivity in a hybrid work environment. It can be an excellent option due to its competitive pricing and should be one of the perfect tools for online meetings and collaboration solutions.
Microsoft Teams Essentials is a new plan introduced as more of a Zoom competitor. The standalone option is priced at $4 per user per month and provides you with the core Microsoft Teams features.
The standalone option can be availed without the typical Office app bundle (M365) that comes with other plans. The significant difference you would notice with the Microsoft Teams Essentials when compared to the Microsoft Teams bundled with Microsoft 365 is that it comes with a simplified chat interface and a Zoom-like functionality.
In essence, Microsoft has dropped some of the features that may appear unwanted for small businesses. A few such examples would include dropping off features similar to Slack. The focus on the features such as meetings and video calls is quite apparent.
Team Microsoft rightly states, “It’s the first standalone offering of Microsoft Teams designed specifically with small businesses in mind…It brings together features small businesses need to serve customers, including unlimited group video calls for up to 30 hours, group chat, file sharing, and calendaring.”
The new plan of Microsoft Teams has been designed to be a great option posing a unique challenge to Zoom and other competing services. Offered separately from the M365 apps and services, it has been considered the first paid version of the communication and collaboration services.
Customer support, file sharing, task assigning tools, polling, and data encryption are a few of the features that you would find quite interesting and exciting.
Microsoft Teams was launched in 2017 and was designed for the perfect communication requirements. The service grew in stature and usability during the pandemic.
Compared to the 145 million users in April 2021, the service gathered as many as 250 million active users by July 2021. The standalone service with an enhanced experience and added functionality should make it a formidable choice by several standards. The business and work settings of the app further make it a genuinely challenging choice.
To begin with, Microsoft Teams Essentials is a standalone package and Microsoft Teams that forms part of the Business plan of Microsoft 365. The significant difference between the Business Premium plan lies in the Teams functionality and the cloud storage offered.
The Microsoft Teams Essentials comes with cloud storage of 10 TB on OneDrive, while the Microsoft 365 Business Premium plan offers you 1 TB of storage across all the available Microsoft services.
Compared to the Microsoft Business Premium, you would find that Essentials lacks a few features such as meeting recording and transcripts functionality, real-time translation, breakout rooms, and whiteboard integration.
You will also find the features like the teams and channels functionality of Teams dropped on the Teams service. The service is more targeted toward the businesses that work with the apps, such as Teams or Zooms. However, you will find private and group chat functionality on the Essentials plan.
With the Microsoft Teams Essentials, Microsoft has been targeting businesses dependent on services such as Zoom throughout the last year or so because of the pandemic.
Given that Zoom is seen as a fierce competitor to Microsoft Teams, the standalone Essentials plan can be a great option as a massive step towards competing with the services such as Zoom and Google’s Workspace.
Microsoft seemingly sees this as an opportunity to lure the small businesses that are looking to balance using a host of tools to get the tasks done. Ideally, if you are a small business, you are most likely to use Zoom for video calls, Slack for the group chat, and Google Workplace for email and calendar.
Several improvements are being noticed in this sphere, and Google has been centralizing the chat and communication apps on the Gmail service. Slack provides an effective app integration making the apps more seamless.
No one has an effective solution for all the services and facilities. Microsoft Essentials comes with the app’s extensibility. Microsoft has recently added support for Google Calendar integration into Teams Essentials.
This can be one of the excellent options for providing you access to making Teams truly commendable and perfectly standalone option.
Suppose you are a small business looking for a consolidated solution that can provide you with similar functionality as Zoom, Google Workspace, Slack, and other similar tools.
In that case, you will find Microsoft Teams Essentials a great option at just $4 per month per user. Given the fact that the Pro license for Zoom would cost you $14.99 a month.
Before we can compare the Microsoft 365 Business Premium and Microsoft Teams Essentials, it may be worthwhile to understand the features offered by the Microsoft 365 Business Premium plan.
The Microsoft 365 Business Premium plan comes with the latest Word, Excel, PowerPoint, and other productivity tools.
You will get access to tools like Outlook, Exchange, and Teams for your connectivity, meeting, and communication requirements. Yet another great feature that you stand to gain with the plan would include 1 TB of cloud storage on OneDrive per user.
This can be a perfect solution for efficiently managing your files anywhere. The sophisticated phishing and ransomware protection is designed to provide you access to a high degree of security against advanced cyberthreats.
You will access an enterprise-grade email through Outlook with a 50 GB mailbox per user and send attachments up to 150 MB. The options such as group chat, online meetings, calling, and web conferencing with Microsoft Teams should assist you in getting your entire team on the same page with effective communication.
With Azure Virtual Desktop support, you can access Remote Desktop Services environments with simplified licensing and lower costs.
The Microsoft Teams Essentials is a newly launched standalone plan primarily focused on small businesses.
The plan comes with all the features available on Microsoft Teams Free and, in addition, brings in a few additional features making it a comprehensive meeting and communication tool.
The primary difference that you would find between the Microsoft Teams Free and Essentials is that the Microsoft Teams free comes with the following options –
Microsoft Teams Essentials
Buy from Microsoft
Microsoft 365 Business
While Microsoft 365 plans such as Business basic, standard, or even Premium can bring you access to a complete-fledged list and features of productivity tools, it may not be feasible for you in case you are a small business.
Until now, you had few options available for working with the best communication tools at a budget pricing. The only option that you had was to use Microsoft Teams Free.
Microsoft Teams’ free plan comes with a few limitations, but there are not many options currently available. With the launch of Microsoft Teams Essentials, you now have an affordable communication tool that should work wonders in providing you access to a great degree of experience.
Instead of going with any of the Microsoft 365 plans, you can use the standalone tool that should fulfill all your needs in enhanced communication needs for your communication requirements.