Microsoft Corporation introduced its proprietary business communication platform Microsoft Teams in March 2017 as part of the entire Microsoft 365 line of software products and services. Although the company already owns and operates the videoconferencing and videotelephony platform Skype, the primary selling proposition of this new platform is to cater to business clients while competing not only against Google Meet and Zoom Cloud Meetings but also with other business communication and collaboration platforms such as Slack.
Teams has gained much interest and usage alongside Google Meet and Zoom around the world due to the coronavirus pandemic and the resulting mandatory lockdowns which compelled businesses and non-business organizations to communicate and collaborate within a virtual environment. Note that the number of users of this Microsoft Teams grew from 13 million in July 2019 to 75 million in April 2020 and further to 145 million in April 2021.
Advantages of Microsoft Teams: Pros and Notable Features
1. Availability of Free and Flexible Paid Versions
Anyone with a Microsoft account can use this platform. Free users can host a virtual meeting consisting of up to 100 participants capped at 60 minutes and add 299 or more team members. Paid users with a Microsoft 365 Business Basic and Standard accounts can host meetings with 300 participants capped at 24 hours while Office 365 E3 accounts can invite up to 500,000 users in their teams and host online events with up to 10,000 participants.
2. Connectivity with Other Microsoft Applications
Another notable advantage of Microsoft Teams is that it is tightly integrated with other Microsoft applications such as the Office suite of productivity applications to include Word, Excel, and PowerPoint, as well as OneNote and Outlook. This integration allows easier file sharing and management, as well as real-time content creation and collaboration for an improved team or group productivity. Note that Google Meet also integrates with other Google services.
3. A True Virtual Collaboration Platform
Remember that the difference between Microsoft Teams and other videoconferencing platforms such as Google Meet and Zoom is that it is a multifunctional business communication platform. Of course, it directly competes with Slack. However, Slack lacks a native videoconferencing feature and integration of productivity tools. The Teams platform has features and tools such as calendar, file storage, team groupings or spaces, and internal social networking, and integration of information systems applications such as CRM.
4. Selection of Integration Options from Third Parties
Integration is undeniably a notable differentiation and advantage of Microsoft Teams, especially when compared to Google Meet and Zoom. The Microsoft AppSource contains a list of various apps from different categories to include personnel management, sales and marketing, inventory and logistics, project management, and data analytics and business intelligence, among others. The integration options provide the platform a high degree of customization that can cater to the unique needs and requirements of different organizations.
Disadvantages of Microsoft Teams: Cons and Key Issues
1. Might Be Too Much To Certain Users
The flexibility and customizability of Microsoft Teams can be a disadvantage. For individuals and organizations who only need a videoconferencing platform for handling virtual meetings, Google Meet or Zoom Cloud Meetings might be a better option. These users might not be able to maximize the features and tools found in Teams. In addition, it is also worth mentioning that the user interface might not be as straightforward as pure videoconferencing platforms. The overall user experience might be too strenuous and complicated for some.
2. Perfect for Microsoft-Centric Environments
Note that the platform is included with Microsoft 365 Business accounts. Furthermore, remember that there is strong integration between these platforms and other Microsoft applications and services. However, while other applications and services from third parties can be integrated, this platform is ideal for Microsoft-centric environments. Organizations accustomed to using non-Microsoft productivity tools would not be able to maximize Teams.
3. Considerably High System Requirements
Similar to the drawbacks of Google Meet and Zoom Cloud Meetings, a notable disadvantage of Microsoft Teams is the high system requirements. More specifically, it requires a dedicated 4GB of RAM or higher and at least a quad-core processor for higher video or screen sharing resolution and frame rate. The platform would not run smoothly on entry-level desktop and laptop computers or devices with outmoded hardware specifications.
4. Unimpressive Mobile Version of Microsoft Teams
This videoconferencing platform is a cross-platform application. For desktop and laptop devices, it is available for Microsoft Windows, macOS, and Linux distributions such as Debian and Ubuntu. On the other hand, for mobile devices, it is available for Android and iOS or iPadOS operating systems. Those who are accustomed to the desktop versions would find the mobile versions too limited because of the unavailability of several features and tools.