Teams Free (classic) is shutting down – what’s next?

Teams Free (classic) for business is shutting down in mid-April 2023. In a classic Microsoft money-grab, the continuing free option is buried away in favor of paid plans plus there’s a hidden punishment for anyone who doesn’t pay.

After April 12, 2023, Microsoft Teams Free (classic), the legacy free Teams app for business, won’t be available. The Microsoft euphemism is ‘retired’.

If you’re confused about what “Teams Free (classic)” is … join the club. More on that below.

What’s happening?

Teams Free (classic) for businesses is shutting down on 12 April 2023 ( about 2 months from today )

All data (chats, files etc) will be lost unless there’s a switch to a paid version of Teams.

Alternatives available

Microsoft prominently mentions two paid alternatives but there’s a free option still available if customers read closely.  So naturally, Office Watch will reverse that and explain the free option first <g>.

Teams Free

Existing customers can sign up for Teams Free which is explained here.

Teams Free has these main features:

  • Unlimited one-on-one meetings for up to 30 hours
  • Unlimited group meetings for up to 60 minutes
  • Up to 100 participants per meeting
  • 5 GB of cloud storage per user

Everyone on the current classic Teams Free has to move to the more recent Teams Free by signing up again.

VITAL: there’s NO migration of data from the classic to newer Teams Free.  There’s no technical reason for that, it’s just Microsoft’s way to encourage businesses use a paid plan instead (which will migrate data).

Paid Teams alternatives

There are two main paid alternatives to Teams Free (classic) for business.

Both INclude migration of data from to the new version of Teams.

Teams Essentials

Teams Essentials the ‘Teams only’ plan which gives each teams user access for US$48 annually per user

  • Unlimited group meetings for up to 30 hours
  • Up to 300 participants per meeting
  • 10GB of cloud storage per user

Microsoft 365 Business Basic

Or there’s the Business Basic plan which includes Teams plus a 50GB mailbox as it’s main feature.  US$72 annually per user.

Do you have Teams Free (classic)?

Honestly, we can’t find a simple way to know if someone’s Teams is “Teams Free (classic)” or any other Teams variation for that matter.

Looking around the Teams app for Windows there’s no direct clue.  The About screen on the Teams app tells you the software version but no details about which Teams plan is being used.

Maybe Microsoft thinks it’s obvious (it’s not) or, more likely, they are relying on the FUD marketing technique.

According to Microsoft …

“If you don’t pay for Teams and you signed up before December 31, 2021, you could be using Teams Free (classic) and may be affected.
Confirm which version of Teams you’re using

But there’s a few problems with that advice.

  • The link that Microsoft gives has nothing to help figuring out which version of Teams you’re using.  It’s all about upgrading, nothing about knowing what’s currently running.
  • Most staff would not know if the business is paying for Teams or not.

When someone signed up for Teams they were given three choices: school, friends and family or work.  Presumably anyone who chose the ‘work’ option before the end of 2021 has ‘classic’ Teams Free … but who remembers what they chose a year or more ago?

If you’re using a Microsoft Business or Enterprise account then you should be using paid Teams and not affected by this change.
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