Microsoft Teams Essentials: An Overview

Microsoft Teams Essentials: An Overview | HelloTeams Global

Microsoft Teams Essentials: An Overview​

In the hybrid business world of 2022, Microsoft Teams is one of the best ways to keep your team connected. Chat, voice, video, file-sharing – Teams has it all.

And getting access to the best Teams feature – Teams Calling, Microsoft’s cloud voice offering – is now easier than ever.  In the past, using Teams Calling meant buying a full Microsoft 365 subscription and transferring your entire workspace to Microsoft.

In 2021, though, Microsoft released Teams Essentials, a standalone subscription that gives businesses access to Teams Calling without moving fully to Microsoft.

In this article, we’ll break down exactly what Teams Essentials includes, why it’s worth investing in, and how you can get started with Teams Calling for free.

What Is Microsoft Teams Essentials?​

In a space where most providers encourage total adoption of their software stack, Teams Essentials is a refreshing alternative. It includes everything you need to use Microsoft Teams to its full extent.

There are two versions of Teams Essentials: Teams Essentials (AAD Identity) and Teams Essentials (MSA). AAD (Azure Active Directory) Identity means your Teams Essentials plan has been purchased from a Microsoft Certified Partner. MSA means your Teams Essentials plan has been purchased directly from Microsoft.

In this article, we’ll be talking about AAD Identity, which has a more comprehensive feature set than MSA – one of the biggest differences between the plans is that Teams Essentials (AAD Identity) users can get Teams Phone licences.  

Pricing​

Teams Essentials has a monthly cost of just AU$5.50 per user, making it a low-price addition to your software stack.

Meetings And Calling​

For meetings and calls, Teams Essentials comes standard with the same functionalities as Teams Business Standard – unlimited calls, screen sharing, custom backgrounds, transcription, meeting invites, and other table stakes features.

With the option for group meetings with up to 300 participants for up to 30 hours, it’s designed for everything from all-hands operational meetings to live conference events. Brainstorm collaboratively using Microsoft Whiteboard, or split off into smaller groups by creating up to 50 breakout rooms per call.

Taking calls with clients, partners or teams who speak different languages? Teams Essentials makes communicating easy with real-time translation and live closed captions. You can even record meetings and auto-generate transcripts – perfect for analysing sales calls or confirming post-meeting action items.

Of course, Teams Essentials also allows you to purchase a Teams Phone Standard licence, enabling you to use Teams Calling. If you want Teams Calling, make sure you purchase Teams Essentials (AAD Identity).

Chat And Collaboration​

Teams Essentials shares chat and collaboration features with the free version of Teams – but also comes packed with a host of new functions.

Unlimited chat and message searches within Teams make it great for rapid intra-team communication. Hold one-on-one conversations, create public chat channels available to all users, or collaborate on specific projects with private channels – and, with up to 2 GB per user of in-chat file attachments, it’s easy to keep tasks flowing smoothly. You can even collaborate live within Teams on Office mobile apps (Word, Excel and PowerPoint).

Teams Essentials also gives you a total of 10 GB of file storage per user and 1 TB across your whole team, up from 5 GB per user under the free version.

Productivity​

If you’re already using free non-Microsoft productivity apps, Teams Essentials might win you over with included access to the web versions of Word, Excel and PowerPoint, along with 10 GB per user of storage in OneDrive.

Outlook and Skype contact import is also included.  Keep in mind, though, that Teams Essentials lets you keep your existing business or consumer email system – you don’t need to switch to Outlook, and your Teams calendar can be configured to sync with, for example, your Gmail account.

Security And Compliance​

Teams Essentials includes at-rest and in-transit data encryption for all video and voice calls; it also includes single sign-on for all services, improving your organisation’s security and reducing the number of login credentials your employees need to remember.

Outlook and Skype contact import is also included.  Keep in mind, though, that Teams Essentials lets you keep your existing business or consumer email system – you don’t need to switch to Outlook, and your Teams calendar can be configured to sync with, for example, your Gmail account.

Admin And Support​

Because Teams Essentials is made for businesses of all sizes, it comes with several handy admin features: organisation-level admin settings for managing users, tools and policies, the ability to migrate data and users directly to Microsoft 365, and the ability to add on services like audio conferencing and Teams Phone.  You also get 24/7 phone and web support – everything you need to keep your calls and meetings running smoothly. 

Outlook and Skype contact import is also included.  Keep in mind, though, that Teams Essentials lets you keep your existing business or consumer email system – you don’t need to switch to Outlook, and your Teams calendar can be configured to sync with, for example, your Gmail account.

Who Is Teams Essentials Designed For?​

Teams Essentials is designed as an easy way for small and medium businesses to access the benefits of Teams Calling – especially those who are already using non-Microsoft productivity tools.

As work becomes increasingly hybridised, having a secure way to easily collaborate with your staff and partners is critical. Teams’ intuitive chat and video conferencing features are the perfect way to communicate and file-share (the live file collaboration is a particularly useful function that cuts out back-and-forth version exchanges). 

If you purchase Teams Phone as an add-on licence, you’ll also get access to the full benefits of cloud voice – a VoIP PBX system that lets you make and take calls anywhere in the world from any phone, computer or laptop.  You can import old numbers or purchase new ones, as well as do things like set up auto-attendants and delegate calls to assistants or admin staff.

What Are The Benefits Of Teams Essentials?​

Because Teams Essentials doesn’t come with productivity add-ons, you won’t be spending money on duplicate functionalities. 

The main benefit of Teams Essentials, though, is that it doesn’t require your organisation’s software stack to move to Microsoft.  Previous Microsoft plans that permitted Teams Phone licence add-ons (the Microsoft 365 Business suitesor plans that came with a Teams Phone licence included, like Office 365 E5, meant that data had to be migrated to your Microsoft subscription.

Simply put, Teams Essentials is an excellent middle ground in the world of Microsoft subscriptions.  It gives you access to Teams Calling (with a few extra services thrown in for good effect) and means you can enjoy the benefits of cloud voice without transitioning to an entirely new software stack.

Next Steps ​

If you’re ready to try Teams Essentials, sign up through a Microsoft Certified Partner like HelloTeams (remember, you need the AAD Identity version to get access to Teams Phone).  Signing up is easy, and our experienced team is on hand to help you set everything up in the right way.

Not sure whether you need an extra addition to your software stack?  Try out Teams Calling with a 30-day free trial of Office 365 E5 and HelloTeams.  It’s a risk-free way to see how Teams Calling can make a genuine difference to the way your organisation works – and we’ve even put together an easy-to-follow guide for installing both E5 and HelloTeams.

Ready to start your HelloTeams free trial?

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