- Microsoft Teams reached 44 million daily active users as the application celebrates its third anniversary this week, according to information shared with CIO Dive. The application's daily user base grew by 12 million since March 11 amid the arrival of the novel coronavirus outbreak in the U.S.
- The company is releasing additional features as the world grows accustomed to remote work, including real-time noise suppression for distracting sounds, such as a conference call attendee typing. Users will also be able to send a visual signal, a raised hand, to indicate they have something to say.
- Teams can now integrate with RealWear headsets for frontline employees, particularly those who require hard hats. The integrations frees workers from hand-held communication audio and visual devices.
The coronavirus pandemic is changing how companies work in real-time. The communication and collaboration platform industry is bearing the weight of an epic remote workforce.
"Customers are feeling the same thing that we are feeling," said Jared Spataro, corporate VP of Microsoft 365, in a recorded press briefing. Companies want to ensure the health of their employees while maintaining business productivity.
For the next six months, Microsoft has offered free updates to Teams in response to coronavirus.
Teams competitors, Google Hangouts Meet, Zoom, Atlassian and Slack, also made changes to capacity or updates policies. While the companies have a tool to promote, they are each upholding a sense of social responsibility.
"The last seven days, however, have shown the sheer unprecedented nature of the global demand we’re seeing now for solutions that enable remote work," he said, in an emailed statement to CIO Dive. Ninety-three of the Fortune 100 companies use Teams. But in seven days — from March 11 to March 18 — Teams went from 14 customers with more than 100,000 users to 20 customers.
The balance between business continuity and employee well-being is hard to achieve. Spataro predicts "we're never going to go back to working the way that we did." The features Microsoft is adding to Teams are meant to enhance the human connection of collaboration platforms.
Experts say the free upgrades to tool access might cause "some retention and stickiness" when the pandemic calms. Vendors will have to prove their worth beyond emergency adoption for customers.
Slack introduced a simplified interface (among other updates) for everyday users Wednesday. The company also redesigned how users can compose messages. While Slack is making its platform easier to navigate, Teams is working to make its platform a virtual office.
Teams' new features — live captioning, AI muting background noise, changing or blurring the background of a video call, and offline capabilities — have helped maintain the application's unrelenting growth in the market.
The platforms, neck-and-neck in the market, have comparable features. The differentiator for most companies is the associated price, Teams bundle-ability, and core IP at the platform level.