Microsoft Teams is well known as a competitor to Slack for workplace communications, but almost a year ago the company announced that it also has features to use it with family and friends. . After a long preview period, Microsoft announces that Teams is now accessible to all and free for personal use.
If you haven’t tried Teams for personal use yet, it includes basic functionality from platforms like Slack and Discord, including video calling, chatting, integration with the files you work with, etc. Today’s announcement highlights the types of features Microsoft is for people who want to use it with their friends and family. For example, “Together Mode” is a variation of video calling that puts you and your callers in a virtual shared environment; Microsoft says it actually reduces video call fatigue “because your brain doesn’t have to work as hard as a standard video call.”
Another personal feature on Teams is to react using emoji and live GIFs during video calls. And Microsoft says you don’t have to worry about multiple links depending on the device you’re using – one link will work on the web, on PCs and Macs, and on mobiles. This is a pretty standard feature for video conferencing, but it’s still useful.
Microsoft also offers organizational features built into Teams, including shared task lists in group chat. You can start a chat with a specific group, then create a list and assign items only to those people. Teams also lets you take any message and turn it into a to-do, so if someone asks you to do something, that message can be converted into an item on your to-do list.
Likewise, you can launch polls with group chats and then take actions directly from the poll once it’s completed, like setting up a video call or calendar entry. Finally, Teams has a built-in ‘dashboard view’ that lets you see everything shared with your group, including files, photos, links, events, shared tasks, and more.
If you’re someone who uses Teams for Business, Microsoft has made it clear that Teams for Personal Use is entirely separate from the work side of the product. Everything is separate, but the desktop app makes switching between the two modes trivial. Again, it doesn’t look any different having multiple Slack desktops. But given that so many people use Slack for their personal communications, it makes sense that Microsoft is also making the personal side of Teams more engaging.
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