Microsoft is expanding the reach of their Teams service with more personal and family related features available at no charge. Teams for Home is a repurposing existing Teams business features so they can bring together families and friends.
All these features are free (there are some call limits). There are Teams apps for Windows, Mac, iPhone, iPad and Android devices plus any modern web browser.
Anyone with a modern device can participate. Video call links can be sent to non-Teams users because the call will open in their browser.
The Dashboard is an overview of the current groups activity, photos, files, web links, shared tasks, and upcoming group events.
Friendly Calls with Together Mode
Audio only or video calls are available in Teams – either one-to-one or groups.
Microsoft has extended their Together Mode for group calls with more friendly, less business oriented options to display call participants like coffee shops, restaurants and even an aquarium.
The original Together Mode had pictures for meeting rooms and auditoriums.
Why 24 hour calls?
One to one calls can last 24 hours on Teams for Home. So can group calls during COVID times, see Team limits below.
Really long calls might seem strange but are becoming more common. You’re not expected to talk for that long, just leave the call on and ‘hang out’, perhaps the call is on a tablet or smartphone while you’re doing other things. Long calls are fun when watching the same TV show or sports broadcast. It’s like sharing a workspace or lounge room with others – all of you doing other things (reading, watching TV etc).
Emoji and GIF’s
Emoji and GIF’s can be added to video calls for a bit more fun.
Text plus chats are possible alongside a call, this is already part of Teams and most other online call/conference products (like Zoom) though most people don’t realise it.
The Chat can have images, emoji, GIF for formatted text, look at the little toolbar below the ‘Type a new message’ field.
In the “Coming soon …” category is Polls, already available in standard Teams. Polls make use of Microsoft Forms
Events, Tasks and Files
Like regular Teams, groups can have Events and assigned Tasks (synced with Outlook) and share files (Word, Excel or PowerPoint).
It all sounds great, very slick and easy … in Microsoft’s reality bubble™.
Using Teams generally and especially Teams for Home is likely to be frustrating. Most people aren’t as tech savvy or confident as Microsoft likes to pretend.
Anyone who has been on a group call (any software) knows the frustrations of people not knowing the basics. Going on or off Mute, turning on their camera or positioning the camera properly. That’s before getting onto other features like Chat or sharing files!
Teams limits now and in the future
Teams for Home has use limits, but some have been raised for the moment due to COVID-19.
The official limits are:
- One-to-one calls for up to 24 hours for free.
- Group calls (2 or more people) limited to 100 people over 60 minutes.
However, until further notice the Group Call limits are raised to:
- 300 people
- 24 hours
Teams for Home video
Naturally, there’s a video to accompany the announcement of Teams for Home. It’s very short, only 35 seconds and incredibly lacking in detail about how to use the service. Nothing that would help people get ‘up to speed’.