Microsoft has introduced a new stand-alone purchasing option for its Microsoft Teams collaboration platform designed specifically for small businesses.
Called Microsoft Teams Essentials, the service includes group video calls for up to 30 hours and 300 people, up to 10 GB of file storage, group chat, and calendaring, among other features. It is available now to users without a Microsoft 365 subscription at a list price of $4 per user per month through Ingram Micro, Pax8, TD SYNNEX, and other distributors, as well as directly from Microsoft itself.
The Basic edition of Microsoft 365, by contrast, sells for $5 per user a month when purchased through Microsoft, but includes Exchange, OneDrive, and SharePoint, plus web and mobile versions of Word, Excel, and PowerPoint, in addition to Teams. Microsoft 365 Standard, which adds on-premises versions of Outlook, Word, Excel, and PowerPoint, plus PC-only licenses for Microsoft Publisher and Access, currently sells for $12.50 per user per month.
A free stand-alone edition of Teams with half as much storage capacity as Essentials and more limited meeting lengths, has long been available as well, and remains so now.
“With Teams Essentials, small businesses from restaurants to retailers to professional services can easily meet, collaborate, communicate and serve customers in new ways,” said Microsoft 365 Corporate Vice President Jared Spataro in a blog post.
The new offering is an affordable option for non-profits, religious communities, and organizations like homeowners associations as well, he added. “These organizations and small businesses need to get up and running fast, and Teams Essentials makes it possible with no IT expertise necessary.”
A version of Teams specifically for partners in Microsoft’s Cloud Solution Provider program is also available now, said Spataro in a second blog post. “Teams Essentials is built for partners, with full manageability and the ability to easily transition into more advanced Microsoft 365 for business suites as customer needs grow,” he wrote.
According to Spataro, Teams Essentials is a strong fit for four specific kinds of partner, including those with customers using on-premises or third-party hosted email systems. “We often hear from small businesses who want to use Teams but are concerned about how cloud migration might disrupt their day-to-day business,” he said. “Teams Essentials works on top of whatever email your customers are already using, meaning partners can add the full power of Teams into any environment.”
Partners can use the new solution as an upgrade from legacy PBX systems as well, Spataro added. “Teams Essentials works seamlessly with Teams Phone System, and Direct Routing, Operator Connect, or 1st Party Calling Plans to enable partners to sell a targeted voice offering to customers looking to replace their legacy systems with modern calling capabilities.”
Teams Essentials can help channel pros provide an affordable solution to customers with roaming “frontline workers” like retail sales associates, factory line workers, and housekeeping staff as well, Spataro continued. “Frontline workers have been critical to the continued operations of small businesses. Teams Essentials delivers the right features like shift scheduling in Teams and the right price point to digitally empower them.”