Microsoft is retiring Microsoft Teams Free (classic) and is encouraging businesses to move to Microsoft Teams Essentials for $4 per user a month if they want to keep any previously shared files on the legacy Teams Free.
Microsoft launched the free version of Teams in 2018, before the pandemic, when it was more of a rival to Slack than Zoom. The free Teams app was a stand-alone app untethered from Office 365/Microsoft 365 licenses, to which Teams was and remains free. The free option allowed it to compete with Slack better.
But now Microsoft is reorganizing its free and entry-level products.
Rather confusingly, there will still be a "Microsoft Teams free", but the legacy Teams Free is going away, and so will any files linked to the legacy account. In other words, if users want to keep their old Teams files, they will need to upgrade to the Essential bundle, but users who don't care about their files can sign up to a new free option.
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"If you prefer to continue using a free version of Teams, sign up for the newer free option, Microsoft Teams (free). You'll be able to view and save files in your current account through April 12, 2023, however, none of it will transfer to your new account," Microsoft explains on a product page.
Microsoft Teams (free) includes unlimited group meetings up to 60 minutes long, up to 100 participants per meeting, and 5 GB of cloud storage per user.
The $4 a user per month Microsoft Teams Essential bundle includes Unlimited group meetings up to 30 hours long, up to 300 participants per meeting, and 10 GB of cloud storage per user.
The Microsoft 365 Business Basic subscription costs $6 a user per month and includes Teams meeting recordings with a transcript, plus the mobile and web versions of Microsoft 365 productivity apps, Bookings features, and 1 TB of cloud storage per user.
Microsoft Teams now has 280 million monthly active users, up from 270 million monthly active users in January 2022. Teams user numbers more than tripled between 2020 and 2021, from 44 million daily active users in March 2020 to 145 million daily active users in April 2021.
Growth in Teams user numbers has slowed, but Microsoft says it has seen "strong interest" in Teams Premium, which is only available to organizations with Office 365/Microsoft 365 licenses and, for Microsoft, represents $10 additional revenue per user each month. Teams Premium offers, among other things, intelligent recaps of meetings powered by OpenAI's GPT large language models.