Free access to Microsoft's Teams group chat, video and audio tool, and a 6-month free trial of Office 365 E1
Microsoft’s group text, video and audio and chat software is called Teams. Teams is part of Office 365 but if you have a work or school email address, Microsoft says to sign in to Teams here and if you’re not individually licensed for Teams, you’ll get a free license valid through January 2021.
If you have a Gmail or Outlook address, you can get the “freemium” version of Teams here. This freemium version of Teams has some limitations – for example, it enables impromptu audio and video calling for individuals and groups, but not meeting scheduling and intelligent video capabilities (though Microsoft says it plans to make meeting scheduling available in the free version). Individual storage is limited to 2GB and team storage to 10Gb. File collaboration with Office desktop apps is also limited.
For broader collaboration capabilities, such as business-grade file sharing and email, that’s where Office 365 comes in. If your business needs heavier-duty online collaboration capabilities, then you might consider a new, free, six-month trial version of the enterprise-grade Office 365 E1. It includes Teams and provides greater collaboration capabilities than Office 365 Home and Business.
For example, you can use it to host meetings for up to 10,000 people with Microsoft Teams live events, and host unlimited HD video conferencing meetings with up to 250 people. Keep in mind that Office 365 E1is an email, file sharing, online meetings, chat and collaboration platform – it doesn’t include desktop versions of Outlook, Word, Excel and PowerPoint. To get an E1 Trial licence you’ll need a Microsoft account representative, who can get you a promo code.
Microsoft also recently released a free “Crisis Communication” app that organisation can deploy to Teams. It claims the app can “centralise discussions, and amplify information across the organisation.” It functions as a “single portal to help ensure [users] are equipped with recommendations from global health authorities, topical world news, the latest information from government officials and experts, and company-specific content including relevant contacts, company news, and links to support channels.” Your employees can use it to quickly tell colleagues if they are working from home or out of the office.