Microsoft Inspire with exciting revelations

After 12 years as the Microsoft World Partner Conference, this year’s event is not only the second as Microsoft Inspire, but my second representing Circyl at this gathering of the great and the good of the tech community.

After just one day, it’s easy to understand why they have re-badged the show as Inspire. It’s not just the people you meet, but the announcements they make regarding the future direction of travel for Microsoft and its product portfolio.

One day in and they announce they are making Teams, one of their most innovate apps available for free, to just about anyone who wants it.

Teams is already proving popular as part of Microsoft Office 365, but is now available in a free version worldwide in 150 markets and 35 languages. It’s clearly a way to attract even more users to the benefits of Office 365, but that doesn’t detract from the chance to use the features for free.

It will appeal undoubtedly appeal to everyone in business, from an office-at-home freelancer to small business owner and even departments in larger organizations – all of them can start using Teams today.

Microsoft can’t be accused of aiming at a minority of UK businesses either, given the free version is available for a maximum of 300 users. There are more than 5 million businesses in the UK with 250 or fewer employees, accounting for 60% of the working population – so plenty for them to aim for.

The free version of the app, which can be simply downloaded in formats for Windows 7+, Windows 10S and Mac OS X 10.10+, includes:

  • Unlimited chat messages and search.
  • Built-in audio and video calling for individuals, groups and full team meetups.
  • Screen sharing
  • 10 GB of team file storage plus additional 2 GB per person for personal storage.

The app also offers integrated, real-time content creation with Office Online apps, including built-in Word, Excel, PowerPoint, and OneNote. There is also unlimited app integrations with 140+ business apps to choose from, including Adobe, Evernote, Survey Monkey and Trello.

This free version of Teams remains a complete chat and online meetings solution. Users can host audio, video, and web conferences, to collaborate more easily and chat with anyone inside or outside the organization – all backed by Microsoft’s secure, global infrastructure.

Naturally, this sprat is intended to show those new to the experience, just how good and well-integrated the Microsoft apps. Teams comes as standard with various versions of Office 365, with prices ranging from £3.80 – £9.40 per user month.

Stepping up to a paid version of Office 365 also brings access to Exchange email hosting and custom email domain, along with OneDrive, SharePoint, Planner, Yammer, and even more Office 365 services, which are unavailable with free Teams.

I just hope the remaining days here at Inspire in Las Vegas are as good, although I bet few announcements catch the headlines like this one about free Teams.