Look out, Zoom — Microsoft Teams is getting a big feature before the holidays

Microsoft Teams
(Image credit: Microsoft Teams)

Zoom may be the go-to choice for video conferencing in our COVID-19-battling world. But rival options such as Microsoft Teams and Google Meet continue to add features of their own that appeal to families looking for ways to stay connected. And Microsoft may have just added a feature that plenty of users will embrace for socially distanced holiday get-togethers.

Microsoft teams has added a new all-day video calling option that you can use for free. Users can pop open the Microsoft Teams app on desktops, browsers or mobile devices and leave it open all day for up to 300 friends and family members to join while active.

Participants joining the call don’t need a Microsoft Account or Teams app — just a browser and a link to conversation started by someone who’s signed up for Teams. That means free chatting, all day, without requiring anyone to download anything extra -- one of the biggest hurdles sometimes when it comes to getting people together. 

All you need to do to host a Microsoft Teams meeting is open up a room via the new Teams web destination, sign in with a Microsoft Account, and then share the link to your new room with friends and family. From there, everyone can join without any of the additional hassle that inevitably comes from signing up to a new service. 

Microsoft Teams now offers the lengthiest calling option currently available among video conferencing services, and you can understand the timing of this release so close to the holidays. Zoom usually imposes a 40-minute call limit that it’s lifting on Thanksgiving, and Google Meet typically offers 60 minutes. Other services, like Skype, don’t require users to disconnect after a certain amount of time, but so many users seem keen on using these conferencing services that they’ve boomed ever since the coronavirus pandemic forced us to shelter in place. 

In addition to allowing large-scale calls, Microsoft Teams will also support users arranging up to 49 friends and family members in a gallery view by way of its Together Mode feature. This allows you to see everyone side by side in a virtual area meant to help make everyone feel as though they're in one large room together. 

It's no secret that the holidays are fast approaching, and with so many users readily logging in to Zoom already each day, Microsoft, Google, and other platforms are quickly looking to find ways to bring others over to their video conferencing software instead. Microsoft offering this large-scale video calling option for free is a smart move, especially since Thanksgiving gatherings are being discouraged by the CDC this year. 

Brittany Vincent

Brittany Vincent has been covering video games and tech for over 13 years for publications including Tom's Guide, MTV, Rolling Stone, CNN, Popular Science, Playboy, IGN, GamesRadar, Polygon, Kotaku, Maxim, and more. She's also appeared as a panelist at video game conventions like PAX East and PAX West and has coordinated social media for companies like CNET. When she's not writing or gaming, she's looking for the next great visual novel in the vein of Saya no Uta. You can follow her on Twitter @MolotovCupcake.