Let’s begin with the obvious – likely a phrase you’ve likely heard approximately 10,000 times over the last 12 months – times have changed. (I know, I know. Please bear with me.)
Video conferencing apps have always been important, but never have they been so essential to businesses worldwide. More and more businesses are moving their employees to home-based work environments, relying on video conferencing technology to conduct meetings of all kinds. With the importance of it at an all-time high, it seems that two video conferencing apps have risen to the top of collective consciousness.
In one corner, a perennial afterthought in the world of video apps which was thrust into the spotlight a whole eight years after its initial release: Zoom. In the other, a precocious upstart, only a few years old, with a rise to prominence coinciding perfectly with the times: Microsoft Teams.
With Zoom and Teams at the forefront of the video conferencing app landscape, which one is best for you and your company’s needs? We’ll break down a few key points about each so that you can make an informed decision on which video conferencing software is right for you.
Both Zoom and Teams offer a free version for those who need to conduct a few simple meetings. The free version of Teams offers users the ability to host and share meetings in Teams, with storage of 2GB per user and 10GB of shared storage, which is plenty for simple files and documents but would likely not be enough to handle a database of documents or several images and video files. It also supports up to 300 people, with unlimited search and chat messages, and no time limit for the length of group calls. The free version of Zoom offers a limit of 40 minutes for group calls, with a maximum of 100 participants; however, one-on-one meetings have no time limit.
Both Teams and Zoom offer paid versions via tiered systems. Teams is included in Microsoft 365’s tiered plans, which are as follows:
- Office 365 Business Essentials: Can$6.40 per user per month. Includes a small number of Office services including Teams and SharePoint
- Office 365 Business Premium Plan: Can$16 per user per month. Includes the Microsoft Office Suite.
- Microsoft 365 Business Plan: Can$25.60 per user per month. Includes advanced security protection as well as the full Microsoft Office Suite.
If you want to purchase Microsoft Teams, you also purchase the ability to use other Microsoft applications. There is currently no reduced rate offered by Microsoft for access to Teams only.
Zoom’s paid subscription tiers are as follows:
- Zoom Pro: Starts at Can$20 per user per month
- Zoom Business & Enterprise: Starts at Can$27 per user per month.
Zoom’s paid platforms eliminate the time limit for group meetings and adds a few other features. Each tier allows for more participants, with additional hosts and participants available for an additional price. Zoom also charges an extra fee for the use of some additional functionality, such as the Zoom Phone feature (an additional CAD $13.30 per month per user), and the Video Webinar suite (CAD $53 per month, per host).
Not only are the price points for each tier in Teams lower than Zoom, but you also get a lot more for what you pay for. Each subscription tier includes other Microsoft Office tools, which can be incredibly useful to your company’s day-to-day operations. Other Microsoft Office Tools, such as SharePoint, OneNote, and Excel, function seamlessly with Teams. Teams also includes Teams Live Events as an option to stream live events with no additional cost, whereas Zoom’s Video Webinar functionality is an additional CAD $53 per month per user.
When pitting two competing products against each other, one thing that always bears mentioning is the uniqueness factor. For example, what does Product A offer that Product B doesn’t? While Teams and Zoom are inherently similar in function, there are some differences in the features that both offer.
Teams has a few features built into their functionality that Zoom does not. Teams includes a persistent chat feature with many different robust formatting options. Chat logs for meetings are archived and easily accessible via the Chat pane within Teams, and messages within Teams have a myriad of formatting options. Teams also includes a built-in meeting notes function, which can be a great way to keep minutes from meetings for future use. Live captions can be configured in Teams, which can be used to share the status of a particular user every time that user is included in a meeting or chat message. With Teams, you can also view each of a meeting’s attendees as if they were in a virtual classroom if you prefer that visualization.
Zoom includes most of the features that are included within Teams. Most of the functional aspects of Zoom’s meetings, including Zoom Chat and the file sharing system, are present in Teams. It’s clear within Zoom’s user interface that it was designed with simplicity and ease of use in mind, which is likely why it has become as popular as it has. It could be argued that there is almost too much functionality within Teams, making Zoom attractive for users who want a simple solution to their video conferencing needs. Zoom’s breakout rooms function, for example, is available on the standard video call user interface, whereas the option in Teams is accessed via a dropdown menu. Zoom also features an option for hosts to not only share their screen, but their audio as well. While hosts can share Audio in Teams, Zoom allows for hosts to share their audio only.
Teams simply offers more unique features than Zoom does. There is certainly value in the emphasis on simplicity offered by Zoom’s user interface, but the added options given by Teams for communication of all kinds gives it the edge here.
Privacy and Security
Both Teams and Zoom are considered secure platforms, with measures in place to ensure that both video meetings and message logs are private and secure.
Because Teams is included in the Microsoft 365 suite, the multi-factor authentication used to sign into Microsoft apps is used by Teams as well. Companies can use the Microsoft Azure Active Directory to customize policies for who can use or view certain files and data across their company. Additionally, the Microsoft Authenticator app can be used to sign into Teams via mobile devices, which adds another layer of security. In terms of the security functionality of meetings, Teams uses a URL link for users to join a meeting. For those joining a meeting from outside the company, the URL will lead to a lobby, where the user will need to be admitted by someone already in the meeting. Microsoft also stated that end user data is analyzed on their end for potential improvements, but not sold to third parties . For Canadian companies concerned about where their data is stored, Microsoft stores Canadian user data on servers located within Canada.
Zoom requires users to sign up via their website with a username and password and supports login via Google or Facebook to authenticate a user. It supports two-factor authentication for users logging in, which aids with encryption. Zoom meetings each utilize a conference ID that must be typed in to join a meeting. There is also an option to further encrypt a meeting with a pin code, which must be entered so that a user can access that particular meeting. Zoom came under fire prior to 2020 because user information was being sold to third parties, such as Facebook. In April of 2020, Zoom’s security practices came into question again as private group meetings, often school classes, saw their Conference ID’s shared publicly online. This led to a number of so-called ‘Zoom bombing’ incidents, where said private meetings were loudly disrupted as uninvited members of the public signed in using the posted Conference ID. As of May 2020, Zoom has updated their security clearances for private meetings, and stated that security and privacy fixes and improvements will be their primary focus moving forward.
Advantage: Teams (by a slim margin)
The multi-factor authentication and Microsoft’s stringent security measures give Teams the slight edge over Zoom; however, the encryption present within Zoom’s meetings have vastly improved from even a year ago. Both platforms are considered by experts to be quite secure overall.
Regroove’s Recommendation – While both video conferencing tools are incredibly useful, we recommend businesses and organizations use Microsoft Teams for virtual meetings because it is an enterprise video conferencing tool that focuses on security and privacy compliance and allows you to store data on servers in your company’s country of origin. Teams also comes with a host of Microsoft’s other tools, which can be incredibly helpful as well. That’s not to say Zoom isn’t used at Regroove – we use Zoom for clients who are more comfortable working in Zoom, and to demo Teams to interested clients. Also, the ‘share sound’ feature as a host in Zoom makes it the preferred video conferencing client for Rockstar Bingo (for now at least). Zoom’s focus on creating a simple and easy-to-use user interface makes it a useful tool for personal video meetings with family and friends; however, in terms of sheer functionality for a business, we recommend Teams.