Microsoft Launches Consumer-Focused Features for Teams

Microsoft Teams got a big boost in popularity since the beginning of the coronavirus pandemic, and Microsoft now wants the communication app to also be useful to chat with close friends and family.

Earlier this year, Microsoft announced that it would be bringing its popular Teams productivity app to the consumer space. Launching today is a preview of the consumer iteration and it arrives with a basic set of features.

Teams has, as of a few weeks ago, 75 million daily active users, and Microsoft is hoping that the company can convince those users to take the app that they use at work and apply it to their personal life. While the company has previously pushed Skype for personal communication, Teams is the way forward for the company.

“With the new features, we hope to extend the power of Teams beyond work scenarios to your personal life,” explained Liat Ben-Zur, CVP of Modern Life, Search, and Devices. “Whether you’re a busy parent managing daily family life or just trying to stay connected and in sync with those who matter most, the new features are designed to alleviate the need for disparate tools and instead offer one central hub for individuals, groups, and families to collaborate and stay connected and organized.”

Microsoft Teams for consumers will let you chat with friends and family, just like you would in another popular messaging app. That includes sharing pictures, GIFs, documents, or your location, and group messages and video calls are also supported. The real difference with other messaging apps is that Teams will allow users to share lists, documents, and calendars all within the group dashboard.

Microsoft Teams for consumers also introduces a new Safe feature for sharing sensitive information such as passwords, rewards cards, driver’s license information, and more with friends and family. Microsoft says that all information in the Safe is secured by two-factor authentication and end-to-end encryption.

Microsoft Teams is now being designed for “people who find themselves coordinating lots of group type events,” says Ben-Zur. “Everything from busy moms … to people who head up Girl Scout troops, fantasy football leagues, people who are doing book clubs, people running social advocacy groups. People who are constantly finding themselves in groups trying to coordinate various things in groups.”

These features provide an early look at how Microsoft will start pushing consumers to use its Teams application. There are still a few notable items missing, such as password sharing, but this is the first release of the preview and the company says they will be updating the features frequently.