- Microsoft Teams virtual meeting solutions is now scalable up to 20,000 participants, the company announced Monday. The company will include the updates in Microsoft 365 or Office 365 for paid subscribers this week.
- To manage the participants, Teams enhanced its administrator controls, including a "view only" option for participants on large calls. Interactive meetings are capped at 1,000 participants.
- Teams is also eliminating the need for phone numbers to make calls as cloud-based Teams Calling allows users to transition between chat, calling, and meetings. "It can be deployed quickly using your existing calling plan or a Microsoft calling plan in select markets," according to the announcement.
The coronavirus pandemic gave communication and collaboration platforms an adoption boost in March — and industry can expect more of it.
"Teams is rapidly becoming the communications backbone as customers accelerate moving voice to the cloud and we are expanding Teams beyond the workplace," said CEO Satya Nadella, during the company's Q4 2020 earnings call last month.
Teams users racked up more than 5 billion meeting minutes in a single day during Q4, said Nadella. As Teams extends to 20,000 meeting participants, 69 customers using Microsoft's platform have more than 100,000 Teams users. Microsoft has about 1,800 customers with more than 10,000 users on Teams.
Teams competitors Cisco Webex allows a 1,000-person capacity on video calls, while Webex Events Service has a 100 to 3,000-person capacity. Zoom requires customers to buy additional licenses to host more than 500 participants for the Large Meeting add-on.
As vendors innovate on software, they're considering the hardware presentation. Last month Microsoft and Zoom announced hardware pushes to accommodate their SaaS offerings, including the Teams' Lenovo ThinkSmart View display.
To support companies still relying on Skype for Businesses phones, Microsoft is extending the service until 2023, beyond its original 2021 expiration date. For the first half of 2021, Microsoft will support "core calling features" of session initiation protocol (SIP) phones, including Cisco, Yealink and Polycom.
While the company is pushing for its touch-screen display, "we are also expanding our portfolio to deliver new USB peripherals that have dial pads and a modern Teams user interface for heavy call users," according to the announcement.