Microsoft 365 gains smart video conferencing with automatic speech-to-text transcription

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This is an important step for Microsoft and its Teams platform as it takes on Slack which has captivated the startup world with its modern take on a communication platform.

The Microsoft Teams free version, launched this week, is designed for small businesses or groups of people within a company that does not have a commercial Office 365 subscription.

After its launch previous year, Microsoft Teams now functions in more than 200,000 businesses across 181 markets, according to the press release. Over 140 business apps work with Teams, Microsoft said, and the 2GB/user file limit should allow plenty of storage per user.

For starters, unlimited chat messages and search, along with built-in audio and video calling for individual team members, groups or full team huddles.

Also built in is real-time content creation with Office Online apps, app integrations, and the ability to invite people from outside of your organization to collaborate on projects. Microsoft's offering additionally boasts guest access.

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Microsoft sees Slack as a top competitor, and is trying to establish Teams as a one-stop repository for any document that a team collectively needs to work on.

Signing users up for Teams is way to get more feet into the door of its application ecosystem, which was once ubiquitous in offices.

Notably, the move allows Microsoft to match the free product offered by its popular rival, Slack.

Microsoft introduced Teams in March a year ago, making it available as part of Office 365 to new and existing customers, in response to popular collaboration tools from the likes of Slack, Atlassian and Facebook. It's available starting today, and as before, a paid plan will cost you $5 per user. "While Slack was moving from small groups to large groups, Microsoft started with Teams and large enterprises and [is] moving their way down the stack", said Moorhead. It still exists, but Microsoft is looking to retire that enterprise-focused instant message product, with Teams evolving as the primary way businesses communicate in Office 365. Subscribers will now be able to create live and on-demand events in Microsoft 365, with features such as a speaker timeline that uses facial recognition to detect who is talking, speech-to-text transcription and closed captioning.

Moving ahead, the tech giant has made Microsoft Whiteboard generally available for Windows 10, and preview on the web.

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