Whether you want to video chat on Zoom, Google Meet, or Cisco, you’ll run into a problem on free tiers—time limits of an hour or less. Fine for a quick work meeting, but not so great for social distance family gatherings like Thanksgiving. Microsoft Teams has a solution. Free video chat with a huge 24-hour limit, all without installing software.
While one person will need to install the Teams software and sign in with a Microsoft account to set up a group for family and friends, everyone else can skip if they want. Thanks to a new feature Microsoft introduced, if someone isn’t on your Teams group, you can add them with a phone number, and they’ll get chat messages as a text message.
If they’d prefer to get a fuller experience, Microsoft’s new web browser option will do the trick too. Just navigate to the site, and anyone can chat or video call without downloading the full software. Microsoft even supports 49 person group chats with its Together Mode feature. Together Mode presents a view of everyone in the same room sitting at chairs.
But one of the standout new features is Microsoft’s new video call time limit. Whereas Zoom limits you to 40 minutes (except this Thanksgiving), Google Meet limits you to one hour, and Cisco Webex limits you to 50 minutes, Microsoft will let you keep the call going for 24 hours. That should be far longer than nearly anyone needs.
You can also set up GPS notifications, so Teams can notify you when someone leaves or arrives at home. They’ll need the mobile apps (for iOS and Android) installed for that to work, but it means Teams can replace yet another piece of software, GPS trackers.
While Teams has long worked as something closer to a Slack competitor, and while that continues to be true, these updates let it complete directly with Zoom and other video collaboration software. But given how far we are into the global pandemic, it’s too early to tell if all the freebies will be enough to convince anyone to switch.