The coronavirus, which has infected nearly 100,000 people and led to more than 3,000 deaths, has led to increasing demand for work-from-home services, as companies encourage people to work away from the office. Web platforms, as a result, are giving members free services or upgrades to fulfil that need.
Both Google and Microsoft have said they will grant access to their more robust teleconferencing and collaboration tools, that are typically only available to enterprise customers, to make it easier for people to work from home. Both companies are only offering free access for a limited time.
Google announced that it would be rolling out free access to “advanced” features for Hangouts Meet to all G Suite and G Suite for Education customers globally until the first of July. That means organizations can host meetings with up to 250 participants, live stream to up to 100,000 viewers within a single domain, and record and save meetings to Google Drive. Normally, Google charges for these features in addition to G Suite access under its “enterprise” tier.
Microsoft is offering a free six-month trial globally for a premium tier of Microsoft Teams. The software giant has responded to COVID-19, also known as the novel coronavirus, and the increased number of work-from-home policies it’s inspired, by making its paid collaboration tool, Microsoft Teams, free for six months.
“At Microsoft, our top concern is the wellbeing of our employees and supporting our customers in dealing with business impact during this challenging time,” Microsoft said in a statement. “For many individuals and organizations, Microsoft Teams video-conferencing, chat and collaboration are playing an important role in helping people continue to work and collaborate. By making Teams available to all for free for six months, we hope that we can support public health and safety by making remote work even easier.”
This tier was originally designed to enable hospitals, schools, and businesses in China to get up and running quickly on Microsoft Teams, and that tier is now available globally. However, when you try to sign up for it, you’ll be prompted to work with a Microsoft partner, like ourselves, for assistance. Of course, we are only too happy to help.
Microsoft says it will also roll out an update to the free version of Teams that will lift restrictions on how many users can be part of a team and allow users to schedule video calls and conferences. Teams meetings for audio calling will also be permanently added to the free version of Teams on March 10
Both Google and Microsoft have also responded to the COVID-19 threat by cancelling their conferences taking place in April and May. Google has also halted most international travel for employees, and Microsoft has recommended that staff work remotely to help prevent the spread of the disease.
As an IT provider we are can assist with setting up of Teams and hosted phones as a remote working solution. Ideally, speak to us now, so we have the maximum time to set up remote access for your employees – before it becomes urgent.