At the start of the month, we reported on Microsoft's plans to increase Microsoft Teams video meetings to 49 visible participants. At the time, the development was teased by the company but now Microsoft has confirmed its plans. In a blog post on Monday, the company also revealed it will increase the maximum participants in private meetings to 250.
Both measures are designed to bring Microsoft Teams more inline with Zoom. Amid the COVID-19 pandemic, Zoom became the go-to video communication tool for enterprise and personal use. Indeed, the company saw its monthly userbase increase from 10 million to over 300 million.
While Microsoft Teams is not a complete competitor to Zoom (Teams also handles other workplace collaboration tools), Microsoft wants it to become one. By increasing visible video participants to 49, the company is moving in line with Zoom.
As for 250 private meeting participants (non-visible), this number is still short of Zoom's 500 participants.
Helping Education Users
While the change is being made across Teams, Microsoft says the goal is to help Microsoft for Education users. The platform currently has 150 million students, education institutes, and teachers. Microsoft says being able to gather a class in one visible meeting is an important first step. Certainly, it's a big reason why educators embraced Zoom during the stay-at-home lockdown during COVID-19.
“For educators, seeing all their students' faces at the same time makes a big difference in student engagement. As well as social and emotional connection. That's why, coming to preview this month with general availability in the fall, we are expanding the Teams grid view to 7×7, which will accommodate up to 49 participants at once on a single screen. In the fall, educators will be able to create virtual Breakout Rooms so students can meet and collaborate in small groups.”
Recently, Microsoft brought a 3×3 grid to Teams (which incidentally also came to Skype), allowing 9 video call participants. Microsoft says 49 participants will be available in Teams for Education this fall.