Microsoft Teams takes on Zoom and Google Meet; introduces free all-day video, voice calling option
(Photo: AFP)

With the COVID-19 pandemic, the usage of video-conferencing apps has skyrocketed. And as their popularity grows, the competitors are vying for an increasingly larger share of the market, offering many an additional incentive. The recent entrant to this list is Microsoft Teams' new free all-day video and voice calling option that will now take on platforms such as Zoom and Google Meet.

The app which can be used on desktops as well as mobile devices will now allow up to 300 participants to remain connected for as long as 24 hours and is being seen as an attempt usurp the popularity of its competitors amid the holiday season. As COVID-19 cases across the world continue to rise, many countries have urged people to stay home, creating an added demand for video-calling applications.

According to the FAQs on the Teams website, while meetings had been limited earlier to 60 minutes in the free version of the app, this has now been removed. "To support our customers during COVID-19, we’ve extended this limit to 24 hours until further specified," it explains.

“To help you stay connected in the coming months, you will be able to meet for 24 hours with up to 300 participants until further specified," the company reportedly said in a blog post. Users will also have the option of including up to 250 participants in a group chat and displaying 49 members on the screen during virtual chats.

Over the last few months Microsoft has announced a slew of changes for Teams. You can now chat with people who do not have Microsoft accounts, as well as people who do not have the app on their phones. Not just a video-calling app, Teams is attempting to project itself as an application to help people plan their day and keep track of their work. It now has personal features that enable people to use Teams for tasks such as tracking one's grocery shopping list or scheduling birthday celebrations. The incorporation of various Microsoft Office applications has also served to give Teams an edge.

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