Microsoft Teams adds 1:1 calling, add-on for supporting 20K participants

Zoom might be the household name for video conferencing these days because of convenience (and hype) but its rivals are slowly but surely surpassing it in terms of features. Microsoft, in particular, is building up Teams to go beyond the usual end-users and turning into something that would better appeal to business customers that pay Microsoft big bucks. For this round, it's adding the ability to have as much as 20,000 participants in a meeting as well as choosing a branded background, for a price, of course.

No one probably has a team with 20,000 members in it but you could have a company or a project that could reach that number spread across the world. Your company might also play host to some live streaming event or workshop that will be open to that many viewers, in which case you might also want to have your company's background behind you even when you're broadcasting from your living room.

Both of these are available from Microsoft Teams' new Advanced Communications add-on, which also offers a few more features of interest to businesses. Things like compliance recording policy and customer engagement workflows might not be of much use for small teams or ad hoc meetings but Microsoft's enterprise customers will probably be considering adding the new plan to their Microsoft 365 paid subscription.

Not everyone has Microsoft Teams, Zoom, or even a computer ready for video conferencing. Some partners and customers prefer to use a traditional phone number to communicate, almost making Microsoft Teams moot. That is until this new Teams Calling feature starts rolling out, providing users a cloud-based phone system that lets them make and receive calls on any device and even switch between calls, chats, and meetings, as the circumstance warrants it.

Microsoft says we have graduated from a remote-only phase to hybrid working arrangements where people switch between home and office to do their work. To assist this new kind of workplace, Microsoft is teaming up not just with smart display makers like Lenovo but also desk phone maker s like AudioCodes and Yealink to add a Microsoft Teams flavor to the venerable communication tool.