I have written extensively on how communication solutions are booming in the backdrop of Covid-19, and many companies like Cisco Systems, Google and Microsoft are improving and updating their services for the masses and enterprises. Microsoft has been on the move with Teams adding new features very quickly, education features, and Teams as a full platform.
Microsoft recently announced new consumer features in Microsoft Teams that supports Microsoft Office 365’s transition to Microsoft 365 and I believe reinforces the company’s commitment to consumers. I think it was fair to question Microsoft’s consumer commitment a year ago, but this announcement is yet another indication that the segment is important to the company.
You can read my briefing of the new family and consumer-focused Microsoft 365 here back in March, and I want to give more details on it as Microsoft Teams is the glue that keeps the suite connected. Microsoft 365 will be enriched with collaboration tools that help consumers with managing finances, pursuing creative projects as well as work on things like a grocery list. New experiences like Microsoft Family Safety app should allow families to control what media is seen and used across all digital and physical planes. It will be connected to a plethora of devices from Android and iOS to Windows PCs and Xboxs.
Microsoft Teams for consumer and families is not just a chatting app
Microsoft Teams for families takes all those new features of Microsoft 365 for consumers and families and makes it a single hub to get all family things done in. Microsoft Teams for consumers and families is a chat, collaboration, and event planning hub for all family and friend interactions.
The advantage that Microsoft wants for Team users over other messaging and collaboration apps is the ability to multitask without using other apps. Messaging and video calling for groups and individuals. Microsoft Team chats is essentially a collaboration juggernaut between family and friends. Microsoft Teams chats have unique sharing capabilities like sharing Microsoft 365 documents, locations, tasks, multiple calendars, OneDrive files, and more. When we look at Microsoft’s Family Safety app, Teams is the best place for families to share those features. Other unique features like assigning people to tasks and giving special access to family account passwords from the Team Safe. I think it is a unique experience that brings the best and most useful parts of Teams into a family setting.
The app itself is the same app that is used in the workplace which could be confusing but I like this better than a different brand. Microsoft allows the user to switch between accounts so that you can use the same app for personal and work. I think this is a great feature and continues with the Team’s theme of not having to switch between apps.
The Dashboard feature for Teams is also a unique feature for a family messaging app. The Dashboard is like a page for chats, and it is where all the Teams Chat information is stored and where users can go to access all the shared information. It has categories for media, location, calendar, files, Safe, and tasks.
The Safe feature is one of my favorites. As I mentioned above, users can access shared family account passwords like Netflix or Disney+. It has a hub to store Wi-Fi passwords, membership passwords, important identification documents like SSN or Insurance. It is a place to store all your family’s important information in Microsoft’s secure cloud.
Since Teams is also built from the foundation of the workplace, I think Teams for family and friends will have an equal amount of privacy and security. I think this is especially true since the work and family Teams are essentially the same but with different accounts.
Currently, Teams is only available for mobile on iOS and Android. From my experience, it works great on iPhones but has a bit to go on Android.
I think there is a lot that Microsoft can do with Microsoft 365 for consumers, and Teams is at the center of it all. It is the app that brings together collaboration and communication to one place. As Microsoft mentioned, Teams for consumers and families is not to directly compete with other messaging apps like iMessage or WhatsApp. It is to give consumers and families a new level of collaboration and synchronization.
Communication tools like this make me think back to when all we had was our T-Mobile top five. It is amazing to see just how far we have come.
Note: Moor Insights & Strategy co-op Jacob Freyman contributed to this article.