Microsoft Teams is one of the most popular collaborative tools around. To help you decide if Teams is the right fit for your software development team, we will dissect the software in terms of its features, pricing, and strengths and weaknesses.
Microsoft Teams Features
While many people are familiar with Microsoft Teams, they may think it is only used for video conferencing. While that is Teams’ specialty, the software can offer a lot more to help organizations stay on the same page, share information, and collaborate without having to switch between apps constantly. Here are some of Microsoft Teams’ highlights as far as features go:
We begin with Microsoft Teams’ bread and butter and the reason why so many people use the app: to hold online meetings. Regardless of where your team members are located, you can meet virtually to share progress, ideas, and more using Microsoft Teams. The software has the capability to host interactive meetings for up to 1,000 participants. And, if project managers want to broadcast a webinar, Teams will let them entertain up to 10,000 participants.
Some video conferencing features in Microsoft Teams that can bring your team of developers, stakeholders, and outsiders closer together include:
- Video preview to ensure everything looks as it should before going live
- The ability to record meetings for future reference and share them with others
- Meeting chats that can be held before, during, or after web conferences
- Live captions for 40 spoken languages
- Customized backgrounds and the ability to blur your background to minimize distraction
- A raise your hand button to ask questions or talk during a meeting without interrupting anyone
- A speaker coach that tells you when to check in with your audience, when you have interrupted someone, and when to change your pace
- A downloadable participant list that you can use for reference or future follow-up
- Options to mute background noise, designate presenters, and remove uninvited attendees
- Audio conferencing as a backup when Wi-Fi is too slow for proper video transmission
- Dark mode for minimizing eye strain
- Screen sharing
- Whiteboard for visualizing and sharing ideas
- Together mode that helps you see who is talking while picking up nonverbal cues
While all of those video conferencing features are great, the ease with which you can join a meeting may be Microsoft Teams’ best feature in this department. All you have to do to invite external guests to a meeting is share a web link using their valid email address, whether they are inside your organization or outside. From there, they can join the meeting through their web browser without installing anything or creating a new account.
Microsoft Teams lets your developers and stakeholders communicate in more ways than one. Besides online meetings and videoconferencing, teams can use the tool to make and receive calls, plus do the following:
- Bring other people into your one-on-one or group calls
- Transfer calls to colleagues and between devices
- Access voicemail and view summaries and transcripts
- Transcribe calls
Instant messaging is another way to keep in touch with colleagues using Microsoft Teams. Whether you want to chat with a specific team member or a whole group of programmers, you can do it all here with such features as:
- Rich text editing with titles, links, bullet points, quotes, highlighting, italics, etc.
- Chat with self for storing can’t-miss notes, files, and media that you will need to share with others later on
- Inline message translation for collaborating with others around the world
- @mentions to get the attention of specific team members
- Priority notifications to mark messages as vital
- Replies via video clips
- Different types of posts for announcements, conversations, etc.
- GIFs, stickers, and reactions
- Schedule send to deliver chat messages in the future
- Pinned chats
- Team channels that group related chat conversations
Project managers and developers can hold video meetings, calls, and chat with colleagues to collaborate via Microsoft Teams. You can also use the following features to ensure everyone is on the same page:
- File sharing
- Real-time coauthoring and simultaneous content editing that lets you work on a single file with other team members
- Automatic sync
- Version history tracking
- Integrations with popular collaboration apps like Slack, Trello, etc.
Microsoft Teams Pricing
Software development organizations have five different Microsoft Teams pricing plans to choose from. The Free plan gives you online meetings for calling and video for up to 100 participants. Each group meeting can last for 60 minutes max, while each one-on-one meeting has a maximum duration of 30 hours. The Free plan also gives you screen sharing, customized backgrounds, scheduled meetings, noise suppression, chat for up to 100 users, file attachments/storage, and Outlook/Skype contact import.
The Microsoft Teams Essentials plan costs $4 per user, per month with annual billing. It allows for extras like meetings and chats with up to 300 participants, 30-hour meeting durations, and enhanced file storage. For $6 per user, per month, you can access the Microsoft 365 Business Basic plan, which gives you perks like live captions for over 30 languages, meeting recordings and transcripts, breakout rooms, a whiteboard, collaborative annotations, guest access, over 250 app integrations, Exchange email hosting and a custom email domain address, Microsoft Bookings, single sign-on, and advanced auditing and reporting.
Microsoft 365 Business Standard costs $12.50 per user, per month and lets you host webinars while providing all of the aforementioned features. And, lastly, there is the Microsoft 365 Business Premium Plan, which costs $22.00 per user, per month. It gives you advanced security, access and data control, plus cyber threat protection.
Microsoft Teams Pros and Cons
One of the easiest ways to decide if Microsoft Teams is the right collaborative tool for your development team is to weigh the app’s strengths versus its weaknesses. Here is a glance at what Teams does well and where it could use improvement:
Microsoft Teams Pros:
- More than just video conferencing, Microsoft Teams lets you collaborate via virtual meetings, chat, file sharing, etc., all in one place without the need for clunky switching between apps
- Teams is user-friendly, even for outsiders who have never used the app before, and does not require any downloads or account creation to participate
- Superb chat that rivals Teams’ robust video conferencing capabilities
- Skype integration
- Excellent for video conferencing
- Provides solid audio and video quality without overloading your system
- 99.9 percent uptime rate for paid users
- Data encryption for all memberships and advanced security features like two-factor authentication for paid plans
- Integration with other Microsoft products and popular third-party apps like Slack, Trello, Zoom, etc.
- Swift support with screen sharing for more complex problems
Microsoft Teams Cons:
- While chat is one of its strengths, some feel that other chat apps like Slack are better than Teams
- Glitchy screen sharing at times
- Beginners may take time to get used to Teams’ interface
Is Microsoft Teams Right For You?
Is Microsoft Teams the only video conferencing and collaboration tool out there? No, but if you are looking for an app that offers chat and video conferencing capabilities, solid audio and video quality, superb security, and integrations with plenty of Microsoft and third-party apps, then you will probably find Microsoft Teams tough to beat.
Looking for other collaboration tools for developers? Check out our highlight of the Top Collaboration Tools for Software Developers.