You can now use Teams to call friends and family free of charge, even if they don’t have the app installed.

Microsoft wants you to use Teams to chat with friends, as well as colleagues.

Image: Microsoft

With Microsoft Teams seeing
huge success

in the enterprise space, the company now wants to see more people use it outside of work.

To do so, Microsoft has introduced a new consumer experience to Teams allowing anyone with a Microsoft account to use the app free of charge to communicate with friends and family.

These ‘personal’ mode features are now rolling out in preview to the Teams desktop and web clients, alongside new features for the mobile version of
Microsoft Teams.

For starters, users can add their personal Microsoft account in the Teams desktop or web app so they can switch between work and personal modes without having to sign out, or switch between devices. Work and personal accounts will open in different windows or browser tabs, making it easier to keep them separate.

Users can also use Teams to video and voice call friends and family free of charge, regardless of whether they have the app installed themselves. Users will be able to meet for 24 hours with up to 300 people, “until further specified.” For group chats, Microsoft Teams supports up to 250 participants.

SEE: How to work from home: IT pro’s guidebook to telecommuting and remote work (TechRepublic Premium)

Microsoft is also introducing new features in preview in the Teams mobile app for Android and iOS, starting with the ability to chat with contacts who don’t have Teams installed on their phones.

Users can type in a contact’s name or phone number in the Teams app and add them to a group chat and, if they don’t have Teams installed, they can send and receive messages via SMS instead. They’ll also be prompted with a link to download the Teams app on their phone.

This feature is available in preview for users in the US and Canada.

Another new personal feature rolling out to mobile is location sharing, which can be set up to provide automatic alerts whenever someone leaves or arrives at a designated location. Microsoft said this was designed to make it easier for friends and family members to keep on top of each other’s whereabouts.

SEE: 11 ways to be a consummate professional during Zoom and Microsoft Teams meetings (TechRepublic)

For privacy reasons, location sharing needs to be enabled by each end-user, Microsoft said. Additionally, anytime someone sets up a location alert for other person, they’ll be notified on Teams.

Other minor updates coming to Teams on mobile include the ability to add group events from chats to their device’s calendar; task and location updates in the activity feed; and photo sharing from Team’s secure ‘Safe’ folder.

The new features will be fully rolled out in the coming weeks, Microsoft said.

The company added: “We are excited about continuing to preview more features in Teams that make it easier for you to organize and manage your personal life. While today is another step in that direction, we are continuing our efforts to bring even more features to you across all devices as we work towards making these features generally available.”

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