Even before the coronavirus COVID-19 pandemic caused Zoom use to explode, Microsoft viewed Zoom video conferencing as a growing threat to Microsoft Teams.
But now, with Zoom under fire over security and privacy, Microsoft is showing off the privacy and security features for video conferences in Teams in the hope of making it the go-to video-conferencing app.
Before the outbreak, Zoom only had about 10 million monthly active users but last week it reporting having 200 million daily meeting participants thanks to remote work and remote schooling.
But Zoom has taken a battering in recent weeks over security issues and the rise of Zoom video-conference hijacking or 'zoombombing'. New York City Department of Education this week started banning Zoom over security and telling teachers to instead use Microsoft Teams.
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In a new blogpost, Jared Spataro, corporate vice president for Microsoft 365, doesn't mention Zoom by name but highlights how Teams privacy and security controls can prevent zoombombing, how Teams encrypts data, and how Microsoft handles law enforcement requests – all areas that Zoom has been criticized for in recent weeks.
He also shows off areas where Microsoft is a more mature tech provider, for example, through its transparency reports detailing law-enforcement requests.
Rights group Access Now recently called on Zoom to release a transparency report as its user numbers rose due to remote working. Zoom is starting to prepare transparency reports under its 90-day moratorium on new feature development while it works through security and privacy issues.
"Now more than ever, people need to know that their virtual conversations are private and secure. At Microsoft, privacy and security are never an afterthought," says Spataro.
On controlling meetings and conferences, he notes that users "decide who from outside your organization can join your meetings directly, and who should wait in the lobby for someone to let them in".
"You can also remove participants during a meeting, designate 'presenters' and 'attendees', and control which meeting participants can present content. And with guest access, you can add people from outside your organization but still retain control over your data," he continues.
"Moderation allows you to control who is and isn't allowed to post and share content. And advanced artificial intelligence (AI) monitors chats to help prevent negative behaviors like bullying and harassment."
Spataro also highlights that Microsoft doesn't use Teams data to serve ads and it does not track participants' attention in meetings. Zoom permanently removed its attendee tracker feature after it froze feature development and patched several security flaws.
Microsoft also deletes user data after a subscription has expired or been terminated. And Spataro says Microsoft takes "strong measures to ensure access to your data is restricted and carefully define requirements for responding to government requests for data".
"In Teams, we encrypt data in transit and at rest, storing your data in our secure network of datacenters and using Secure Real-time Transport Protocol (SRTP) for video, audio, and desktop sharing," he explains.
The message comes as Microsoft gears up to roll out Teams for consumers in coming months, potentially to become a replacement for Skype for consumers.
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As The Verge reported in March, a leaked Microsoft video aimed at its resellers revealed that Microsoft saw Zoom as an "emerging threat".
"We know Zoom is targeting customers who are having challenges with their current meeting solution, especially Skype for Business," the video states.
Microsoft also knows that Zoom has a lot of salespeople who used to work for Cisco's WebEx and are tempting customers on expiring Cisco contracts with lower prices.
In a second video about how to compete with Zoom, Microsoft says Zoom is new, agile, and fast growing.