Not one to rest on its laurels, Microsoft has released an update to Teams that appears to have Zoom squarely in its sights.
Zoom quickly established itself as the video communication platform of choice for businesses and individuals alike in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic. It goes without saying, that hasn’t gone over well with Microsoft, especially since the company owns Skype, one of the oldest video communications platforms.
In recent months, however, Microsoft Teams has become the darling of the company, and it seems clear it views Teams as its best chance to take on Zoom. With its most recent upgrade, it’s clear that Microsoft is fighting back to reclaim some of the video conferencing market share.
The first eye-catching feature of the new release is custom background effects. Teams already had the ability to blur backgrounds, but this new feature allows users to upload their own images, or use one of the presets that come with the app.
“No need for a green screen, or even a blank wall. Teams uses a highly trained model that differentiates the subject from their background and can impose a custom background over everything else, making it easy and fast to start expressing yourself in all your meetings,” writes Jared Spataro, Corporate Vice President for Microsoft 365.
The second Zoom-like feature is the ability for free accounts to schedule meetings in advance. Like Zoom, Teams users can either copy the invitation link or send an invitation for Outlook or Google calendar.
Another feature that will greatly benefit users is live captions.
“Teams free users can now turn on live captions during their calls and meetings,” Spataro continues. “This feature makes meetings more inclusive, giving participants another way to follow along with the conversation and address the needs of participants with different hearing abilities or language proficiencies. It’s currently available as a preview in U.S. English.”
Overall, this is a welcome upgrade to Teams and will likely go a long way toward helping Microsoft make a dent in Zoom’s lead.