Microsoft wants to extend Teams to the general public
Very used in the professional world and in particular in the context of work, Teams wants to go beyond and seduce the general public. A difficult task for Microsoft in the face of strong competition.
Five years ago, to compete with workplace collaboration tools like Slack and Hipchat, Microsoft launched Teams. This time, the publisher wants to attack the general public and compete with Discord, WhatsApp, Snapchat, Signal and others. At the start of the week, the existing Android and iOS Teams applications, the Windows desktop app and even the web provide access to what the American firm calls “personal features in Teams”. The app has been renamed accordingly. To try it out, just click on the Teams icon on your terminal. In addition to the professional account, everyone will be able to see the option to add a personal account.
The question that may be asked is whether, after having accumulated for years, contacts, groups, habits and practices on one or another of the other communication applications , why use Teams instead of another collaboration app? It’s also questionable if Teams users will want to use an app that reminds them of their daily work environment to plan outings with friends? Christy Hughes, director of Modern Life at Microsoft, thinks they will.
Personal features of Microsoft Teams include group chat and group dashboard, plus the ability to share files, tasks, and more. (Credit: Microsoft)
The latter said consumers do want to keep their work and personal lives separate, but that Teams for the General Public is addressing those concerns. “The tool is really focused on the general public and on people who want to connect all aspects of their life with that of their family,” she said.
Set up Teams consumer version
Of course, you will need a Microsoft account to launch Teams, both for business use and to take advantage of these latest personal features. On the other hand, friends do not necessarily need a Microsoft account to communicate with the user, but without this account, their interactions will be strictly limited to the exchange of SMS. This is because creating a group of friends is designed around a task – for example, planning a trip. “You don’t have to follow that principle, but generally the group has some kind of goal,” confirmed Christy Hughes.
On Windows, the Microsoft Teams app for consumers mixes chat, video, and more. (Credit: Microsoft)
Once group chat is set up, interacting with friends will be like Teams. It will be possible to chat with them back and forth, share emoji and GIFs, etc. Microsoft is confident that groups will conduct chat polls to decide what they want to do. However, Teams does not yet offer a Snapchat-style image lifespan limit, so photos from a boozy night out will remain visible at vitamins. Each chat will include both the chat window itself and an associated ‘dashboard’. It is in this space that we will find the functions of professional Teams with its shared tasks, shared photos, even shared spreadsheets for shopping or planning an event. (There doesn’t seem to be a lot of new stuff in mainstream Teams.) Hughes says that sobriety is a strength: Consumers now have over 110 apps on their cellphones, and it’s more useful to bundle multiple functions together. (planning and others) in one application than to disperse these tasks.
Like the Teams pro app, it is possible to video chat with a person or a group of friends. But within certain limits: it will be possible to speak for free with anyone in one-to-one for a maximum of 24 hours. For a group call (more than two people), it will be possible to bring together up to 100 participants for 60 minutes free of charge. But for now, these limits are not applied: until further notice, it is therefore possible to meet with a maximum of 300 participants and talk for up to 24 hours for free.
The general public Teams app allows you to reply to your contacts by chat, text or emoji. (Credit: Microsoft)
During the call, it will also be possible to answer with emoji, which will appear at the bottom of the screen. It will also be possible to use a general public version of “Together” mode, to “extract” the faces of the people with whom we are in communication and organize them in rows with a personalized background in order to recreate a kind of virtual café. .
A renewal of the “general public” at Microsoft?
Observers cannot help but view Microsoft’s efforts towards the general public with some skepticism. They recall that the supplier has already put an end to Zune, its Groove Music service and has abandoned all attempts in terms of Windows Mobile phones. Even the company’s social network, so.cl, fizzled out. Nevertheless, it seems that Microsoft is keen to add new features to Teams on a regular basis, which could make the consumer version more attractive. “Microsoft is investing in the general public like never before, and in this area there are going to be a lot more new things and initiatives, especially towards Teams, which is a big part of this strategy,” said Ms. Hughes.