Add new features to Team, Meet cloud collaboration platforms
Microsoft and Google are taking aim at Zoom in the hotly contested cloud collaboration space with new features designed to meet or exceed what their rival can offer.
The Lowdown: The global COVID-19 pandemic and the ensuing rush to have employees work from home to comply with social distancing and lockdown measures have fueled a surge in demand for videoconferencing and other remote collaboration technologies, driving a push among vendors and their channel partners to bulk up features and services.
The Details: Over the weekend, Mike Tholfsen, principal group product manager for Microsoft’s education business, tweeted that Microsoft Teams can now support 300 participants on a single video call, a significant boost over the 100 that Zoom allows onto a free call (though users can increase the number of meeting participants to 500 or 1,000 with an additional large-meeting license).
The new capabilities come days after Microsoft began rolling out consumer features for Teams and soon after the company launched new features like the ability to display up to 49 people on a call and new backgrounds.
For its part, Google late last week introduced new capabilities for Meet like making it easier to connect to meeting via smart home displays. In addition, the company unveiled a number of new features that currently already are available on Zoom and that will be coming to Google Meet, including Jamboard (a collaborative whiteboard), hand raising, meeting attendance, breakout rooms, polling, a channel for participants to ask questions without disrupting the meeting, and more moderator controls.
The Impact: The coronavirus outbreak has created a land rush of sorts in the videoconferencing market and Zoom has been a beneficiary of the growing demand. The company said this spring that it saw the number of daily participants triple, to 300 million, while Microsoft has said it’s seeing as many as 75 million active users a day. However, Zoom also has been hampered by concerns about security and privacy on the platform.
The rising demand for the technology also has meant a push by a growing number of vendors into the space – either through new products or new features on existing offerings – including Facebook, Verizon, Lifesize, and RingCentral. Cisco this month enhanced its Webex platform with more security, compliance, and intelligence features.
Enterprises also have turned to channel partners to help adapt to the expanded remote workforce, convincing companies to expand the services they offer in the cloud collaboration space.
The Buzz: “Whether you’re working from home, in the field, on the manufacturing floor, or back in the office, Meet is designed to help everyone connect securely. But for those of us working from home, it can also mean working without a dedicated office space – for example, from your dining table, living room, or basement,” Smita Hashim, director of product management for G Suite, wrote in a blog post.