By Delia / Last update December 20, 2021

For small businesses, Microsoft recently launched Microsoft Teams Essentials, a plan that costs $4 per user per month and offers the core conferencing features of Teams without the typical Office applications bundled. For Office, you'll need to join the more expensive Microsoft 365 plan.

microsoft teams essentials

This standalone version makes Teams more of a Zoom competitor, as Microsoft has dropped the Slack-like channel feature in favor of a more streamlined chat interface and a focus on meetings and video calls.

This is the first standalone product for Microsoft Teams, designed specifically for small businesses. It brings together the features that small business services customers need, including up to 30 hours of unlimited group video calling, group chat, file sharing and calendaring.

Microsoft Teams Essentials fills a gap that has existed for small businesses since Teams was introduced nearly five years ago. Until now, small businesses have had to choose either the Microsoft 365 Business Essentials plan - priced at $5 per user per month, increasing to $6 in March - or competitors such as Zoom, Slack, Google Workspace and others.

The difference between Teams Essentials and 365 Bsiness Basic

The differences between Microsoft Teams Essentials and the Microsoft 365 Business Basic plan revolve around Teams functionality and cloud storage. Essentials offers only 10GB of OneDrive storage, while Business Basic offers 1TB. Essentials also lacks meeting recording and transcription capabilities, real-time translation, breakout rooms, and whiteboard integration.

Microsoft Teams Essentials also drops Teams' team and channel features, so it's more targeted at businesses that rely on applications like Teams or Zoom for video calls and meetings. However, private and group chats will still be available in Microsoft Teams Essentials.

Microsoft is targeting smaller businesses that rely on Zoom throughout the pandemic, a competitor the software maker identified last year as an "emerging threat," and offering a standalone version of Teams feels like a big step toward competing with Zoom and even Google's Workspace.