NEW: Microsoft Teams Essentials is Made for Small Businesses

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Ever since the pandemic hit, business owners have consistently faced challenges. Even the big organizations have struggled with running operations during this period, but the most extensive damage was done to small businesses. Small business owners had to improvise and adapt to operate & work with customers amidst the pandemic. One significant challenge here is that the majority of the small businesses do not have access to critical tools & technologies like the big organizations.

However, Covid-19 has changed everything drastically, and things will not be the same. The old way of conducting business has become obsolete; These days, small business owners need to have the solutions built to help them in the new normal.

The following blog is dedicated to one such tool, i.e., Microsoft Teams Essentials. It is a software solution from Microsoft that is specifically designed to cater to the needs of small businesses.

The software is a complete package offering unlimited group video calls for up to 30 hours, file sharing, calendar scheduling, file sharing, and group chats. Now, this might sound like the software would cost hundreds of dollars, but the price starts at $4 only; Such aggressive pricing makes it the most affordable solution for small businesses.

Teams Essentials is built for small businesses

Microsoft Team Essentials is an all-in-one software targeted to small businesses to meet, collaborate, communicate, and engage with their customers. A lot of small business owners adopt the software.

One successful case study here is of King Kong Media Productions, a Singapore-based media production & entertainment company that has integrated the Teams to make their business operations go smoothly!

As per Tang Wing Fai, The executive director of King Kong media:

Our team uses Microsoft Teams to conduct and manage virtual meetings with their clients; it saves their team without impacting the quality of their meetings. “Employees were more productive during remote work,” said Tang. Microsoft Teams ensures that all team members can interact with team members and collaborate on projects,

Also, their requirement for affordable communications tools is not limited to profit-making businesses; Today, many non-profit organizations such as community groups, religious groups, and schools have struggled for interactions during this whole phase.

The need for affordable communications tools isn’t limited to traditional for-profit small businesses. Non-profits, religious organizations, schools, and community groups also struggle to connect and collaborate effectively. All such organizations needed communications solutions & Microsoft Teams provided an effective solution. Microsoft Teams essentials allow all these small businesses to participate effectively.

Still the accessible version of the Microsoft Team. But Microsoft Team Essentials extends the limits of the free performance, where you get additional storage and longer meetings.

 

Meeting up to 300 participants on a group call
Photo credit: Microsoft
Shared default Google calendar integration.
Photo credit: Microsoft

To make this simple let’s look at some of the features that come with the Microsoft Team Essentials.

  • Extended Meeting times: With Microsoft Teams essentials, you can schedule meetings that can last up to 30 hours.
  • Large Meeting capacity: With Microsoft Teams essentials, you can host meetings with up to 300 people at a time. The limit is sufficient for small businesses to bring everyone together in a single virtual room.
  • Integrate Calendars: Microsoft Teams Essentials allows you to integrate Outlook calendar and Google Calendar. These two are major calendar apps used worldwide! Therefore, you can use your existing calendar software to manage your schedule and meetings.
  • Easy invites: Inviting people to meetings was never this easy! All you have to do is send the Teams meeting invitation via their email address. Then, they will receive a meeting invitation link to join. Also, if the recipient does not have a Teams account, then the meeting opens on their browsers. There is no installation or signup required!
  • Interactive Meetings: Microsoft Teams Essentials allows you to create a meeting lobby, virtual backgrounds, together mode, live reactions to keep all participants engaged in the meetings.
Easily share files on any Teams chat
Photo credit: Microsoft
Photo credit: Microsoft

Team essentials allow participants to engage and store content in one place, making it easier to stay organized. The software features allow participants to save time and keep meetings/conversations context. There are tools such as office web apps, groups, task managers & much more. Here’s a quick overview of what Teams offer:

  • Extra storage: Microsoft team essentials come with extra cloud storage; so that you do not have to worry about running out of storage to share files & documents. Participants can co-author, view, edit, and store Office 365 files. The Teams Essentials provides 10 Gb of storage, and it is twice the limit of the accessible version of Teams.
  • Ongoing Chat: All conversations keep on running until the meeting ends. It helps to keep the conversation going and the context relevant.
  • Small business group chats template: You can start a group project and host meetings with anyone. You can assign tasks to your subordinates and collect live feedback that helps to boost productivity and track progress.
  • Chat, meet and collaborate with anyone: You can collaborate with anyone, even if someone is outside of your organization; you can do it; Use the Teams app to dial in and keep all your chats in one place. You do not need to switch to any other app to handle your clients or chat with anyone outside your organization.
  • Mobile chats: You can click on the dashboard to view all your one-to-one or group chats; Share, manage and organize content in different categories such as events, tasks, photos, files, etc.

Providing the best value to small businesses

Cost is something that matters to every small business. Teams Essentials provides the best value for its price. It has a simple interface that is easy to learn and straightforward.

Along with the best communication features, Microsoft Teams maintain the lowest cost in the market, which is $4/user per month. It delivers outstanding value to all small business owners.

Microsoft Teams essentials come with extended support from Microsoft running in the Azure cloud. It ensures the security, reliability, performance, and support for all problems that a small business owner might encounter! It has all the technology you need within the budget!

How to buy Teams Essentials

Converting your business’s communications to Microsoft Teams is a process that is easy enough for tech-savvy people to figure out. Nevertheless, to optimize your experience and get the most out of the platform, it is better to bring in award-winning professionals intimately familiar with all of Microsoft’s offerings, apps, and cloud services.

Talk to specialists at WheelHouse IT, a Microsoft Gold-Certified partner, to learn how they can seamlessly upgrade your systems and put you on the path to more effective collaboration.

Microsoft Teams Update: Chat with users outside your organization

You can now work and collaborate with people outside your organization/partners within the Microsoft Teams workspace.

Business runs on communications; To be more precise it runs on active communication between colleagues, vendors, follows ups, and customer outreach.

At Ignite fall 2021, Microsoft announced that you can now invite any external Teams user to your chat by their email id/contact number. While giving IT admins and Microsoft personal team account users a wide range of controls/tools to enhance security.

This not only applies to colleagues, but Microsoft Teams also now allows you to chat with Teams users outside your organization. It even allows you to chat with people who have personal Teams accounts. This makes collaboration with external users/clients and SMEs easier.

Although Microsoft has different controls for organizations to monitor outside communication. To make this easier, we have created this article dedicated to this latest Teams update by Microsoft.

How to chat with Teams users outside your organization

There are two ways through with you can chat with someone outside your organization:

  • Send invites to External Teams personal account users.
  • External Teams personal account users invite you to the chat.

Here’s how it works:

Business account users can invite external Teams users to chat by entering their email address/contact number. On the other side, the Team personal account users can enter the exact organization email to start chatting.

If the other person does not have a Teams account, then you can invite them to the Teams application via email/text message. Once the user successfully registers with Teams, then he/she can chat with you.

When the users accept your invitation, then you can start a new one-to-one/group/individual chat with them. Everything would be available on your Team’s business account without switching tenants.

Once you are ready to chat, then you will have access to rich messages, GIFs, and stickers. Also, when you are done with the chat or the communication is done, then you can block yourself/leave the group.

Please note: All Teams member accounts, whether an organization or personal accounts can decline any external invitation. There’s a limit, where one Team user can message an external user up to ten times before they accept the request.

However, if they do not accept, then all messages sent will not be delivered.

Teams Moderation: IT admins manage all external access

Organization IT admins have complete access to Team’s accounts. IT admins have complete access to both inside and outside communication. Here’s a brief bifurcation of the controls:

Outgoing chats: Allow/Disallow all users to start a chat with external Teams accounts.

Incoming chats: Allow/disallow any external users to interact with any Teams account associated with the organization.

Admins can control all internal/external communication using a simple toggle/checkbox to allow/disallow users within the organization to interact with others.

Also, admins can use PowerShell commands to stop individual users from receiving external communication requests.  Click here to learn more.

Please note: To block all external access to your organization, then you must do it manually. By default, external access is on.

Protect users throughout the Organization

Microsoft emphasizes a lot of user security, privacy, and governance. The external chat communication model is developed on the MS 365 hyper-scale [backed by Scale-out technology].

The platform provides advanced security/compliance capabilities to all users. Although the Teams application is open and accessible to all, it still offers a wide range of controls/tools for security needs. The tool alerts the users when they chat with people outside their organization.

The platform allows users to chat with users from other organizations, IT admins can disallow conversation with all Team accounts currently not managed by the organization via the admin console.

This is how Teams allows users to interact with users outside the application. But, still, the admins can disable the chat with team accounts not managed by the organization. Even when external communication is enabled, the team users are still protected.

The Opt-in Pop-up

All users do not receive any message until they approve to preview. Also, Teams reminds the users of the risk associated with external user chat and gives them the option to block/accept the message.

Outside users get the “External” badge

MS Teams shows an external badge to all outside messages in the chats (left most list) and header.

 Complete Spam check:

Before you get the prompt to accept a message, Teams performs a runtime spam check. If there is spam detected, then the message will not be delivered.

 The Message limit:

There is a limit of 10 external messages, and anything additional will not be delivered to the user.

 Admin controls:

Admins have robust control over tenants and every user-level external access.

 User privacy:

To keep user information private, we only display the name/email address. But there are no personal identifiers such as profile picture, status, etc.

All Teams personal account users have the option to manage their discoverability via the settings menu and opt-out from being discoverable to other Teams users.

All end-users will not be able to view any external messages unless they accept. Also, they would be reminded of all the potential risks associated with an external chat.

Looking for an effective Business collaboration Software? – Chat with Teams Users outside your Organization

Chat applications are the best way to collaborate and engage with colleagues, partners, SMEs, and whatnot.

Teams is one such application that gets the job done perfectly. The application bridges the communication gap while keeping the user’s privacy intact.

Why wait, enroll with MS Teams today!

For all updates on Microsoft, cybersecurity, and other business technology, be sure to check out our weekly blogs!

Tip: Use Dark Mode to Go Easy on your Eyes

Profile comparison on dashboard panel user interface with dark mode

Staring at a bright computer screen all day can bother your eyes, especially if it’s done on a routine basis. We know that staying away from computers and devices is something that we cannot get away from in the business environment, but you can take steps to make it more manageable and easier on your eyes through Dark Mode.

Here are some ways to enable darkness mode for your Windows operating system and its applications. However, take note that most of your desktop applications will not be affected by default––only the ones associated with Microsoft and Windows. You should always check the settings for other applications, as they may have darkness mode built into them.

Enable Dark Mode for Windows

The blanket setting for dark mode in the Windows operating system can be found here: Settings > Personalization > Colors. You should see the option for dark mode under Choose Your App Mode. This does not change all of the settings for all of your applications, so be sure to check the settings for any apps you use regularly.

Enable Dark Mode for Edge

Microsoft Edge is Windows’ default web browser, so (as expected) it has a dark mode setting. You can enable it through the three-dot menu on the right side of the screen. Select Settings, navigate the drop-down menu and select Choose A Theme. From here, choose Dark.

Enable Dark Mode for Microsoft Office

Microsoft Office has a dark option that can be enabled through the settings. You can do so by opening any Office application, like Word or PowerPoint, then going to File > Options. Under the General tab, click on Personalize Your Copy of Microsoft Office. You can then set your Office theme to Black.

That’s all you need to do; dark mode should be enabled on your Microsoft products. Other applications might have extensions or add-ons that will allow it, so make sure you do a quick search to see how you can make dark mode happen for your specific applications. Just make sure they are legitimate––you don’t want to put your infrastructure at risk trying to make things more convenient for yourself.

We hope you have found this blog helpful! If so, why not share it with some of your friends or colleagues?

What are some other tips you would like to see us cover in the future? Let us know in the comments, and be sure to check out our weekly blogs, so you don’t miss a beat.

Outlook Keyboard Shortcuts Everyone Should Know

woman looking at laptop with Microsoft Outlook logo on a white screen

Just like the other Microsoft products in the Office suite, like Word and Excel, Outlook has several keyboard shortcuts that you can use to be more productive. We’ve put together a handy guide of some of the most helpful keyboard shortcuts you should keep in mind to get the most out of Outlook.

As always, with quick guides like these, we urge you to consider printing out this message so that you have it as a quick reference. You can use it to up your Outlook game!

Basic Outlook Functions

First, let’s talk about some of the most basic functions of Microsoft Outlook.

For PC

  • Create a message: Ctrl + Shift + M
  • Send a message: Alt + S
  • Insert a file: Alt + N, A, F
  • Delete an item: Delete
  • Reply to a message: Alt + H, R, P
  • Reply All to a message: Alt + H, R, A
  • Forward a message: Alt + H, F, W

For Mac

  • Create a message: ⌘ + N
  • Send a message: ⌘ + RETURN
  • Add an attachment: ⌘ + E
  • Delete an item: Delete
  • Reply to a message: ⌘ + R
  • Reply All to a message: SHIFT + ⌘ + R
  • Forward a message: ⌘ + J

Navigating Outlook

The following keyboard shortcuts are used to move around Outlook and showcase different views.

For PC

  • Switch to Mail: Ctrl + 1
  • Switch to Calendar: Ctrl + 2
  • Switch to Contacts: Ctrl + 3
  • Switch to Tasks: Ctrl + 4
  • Switch to Notes: Ctrl + 5
  • Switch to Folders: Ctrl + 6
  • Switch to Shortcuts: Ctrl + 7
  • Switch to the next open message: Ctrl + .
  • Switch to last open message: Ctrl + ,

For Mac

  • Switch to Mail: ⌘ + 1
  • Switch to Calendar: ⌘ + 2
  • Switch to Contacts: ⌘ + 3
  • Switch to Tasks: ⌘ + 4
  • Switch to Notes: ⌘ + 5
  • Display the next message: CONTROL + ]
  • Display the previous message: CONTROL + [

Creating Items or Files

Sometimes you might need to make items within Outlook. Here are some of the most common types you might need.

For PC

  • Create an appointment: Ctrl + Shift + A
  • Create a contact: Ctrl + Shift + C
  • Create a contact group: Ctrl + Shift + L
  • Create a folder: Ctrl + Shift + E
  • Create a meeting request: Ctrl + Shift + Q

For Mac

  • Create an appointment: (While in Calendar view) ⌘ + N
  • Create a contact: (While in Contacts view) ⌘ + N
  • Create a folder: SHIFT + ⌘ + N

There are so many keyboard shortcuts for Microsoft Outlook that we cannot list them all here, so for even more tips, be sure to check out Microsoft’s official website at this link.

What are some other tips that you would like to see us cover in the future? Let us know in the comments, and be sure to check out our weekly blogs so you don’t miss a beat.