Microsoft Teams takes on Zoom with killer video call upgrade

Microsoft Teams
(Image credit: Microsoft Teams)

Microsoft Teams is stealing one of Zoom's best features — the ability to display 49 video call participants on one screen. Recently, Teams rolled out an update allowing nine people on a call to be visible at once in a 3x3 grid. Now, it looks like Microsoft is planning on expanding that even more, to a 49-person grid.

Microsoft announced the news to The Wall Street Journal and confirmed it to CRN in an email saying, "The Microsoft Teams roadmap does include increasing the number of people viewable during a Teams video call to 49." The company has not revealed a timeframe for the new feature.

Microsoft Teams is clearly looking to gain some ground against Zoom, which is at the top of our list of the best video chat apps. During the pandemic, Zoom has become the de rigueur video conferencing service for virtual work meetings, happy hours,  Zoom karaoke and even weddings. In April, Zoom reported it had 300 million daily users across its paid and free services, as opposed to Microsoft's 75 million daily users.

In response to Zoom's explosion in popularity, Microsoft and other companies have introduced or upgraded their video calling products. Skype (owned by Microsoft) recently expanded on-screen participants to nine and rolled out its answer to Zoom backgrounds. Google Meet became free for everyone (not just G-Suite customers) and was integrated into Gmail. Facebook launched Messenger Rooms, which can accommodate 50-person video calls.

Microsoft Teams has also made upgrades to make its product more competitive. In addition to its recent expansion of on-screen participants, Teams launched real-time noise suppression to reduce background sounds and custom backgrounds like Zoom. And the company continues to provide special support for prominent customers, like the National Football League, which used Teams to run the 2020 draft. 

Kelly Woo
Streaming Editor

Kelly is the streaming channel editor for Tom’s Guide, so basically, she watches TV for a living. Previously, she was a freelance entertainment writer for Yahoo, Vulture, TV Guide and other outlets. When she’s not watching TV and movies for work, she’s watching them for fun, seeing live music, writing songs, knitting and gardening.