Microsoft Teams vs Zoom for Online Meetings

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A few months ago I had the privilege of writing a report for one of our customers looking at the differences between the top 5 online meeting solutions – Microsoft Teams, Zoom, Webex, GoToMeeting, BlueJeans – I say a privilege because rarely do you have a chance to have a hard look at the competition. While I cant share the report in its entirety, I wanted to pluck out a few bits to answer the Microsoft Teams vs Zoom question because its a very common ask of customers.

We picked the top 5 software as a service (SaaS) solutions based on the Gartner Magic Quadrant below:

  • Microsoft Teams
  • Zoom
  • Cisco Webex
  • GoToMeeting
  • BlueJeans

Summary of findings

Firstly, it’s important to note that findings are valid as at Dec 2019 and likely to change (rapidly!). Feel free to reach out if you feel an update is required. Also, my day job is consulting in the Microsoft collaboration space. I’ve done my best to remain neutral.

Summary

Of the products reviewed, I found there to be very little difference in the feature sets they offered. The user interfaces were easy to navigate, and in most cases, felt modern with good design and size of control elements – any of these products would address most customer online meeting requirements.

It’s important to note that Microsoft Teams is much more than meetings. It’s pitched as a team-based collaboration workspace and includes Unified Communications (UC) capability. Cisco and Zoom also offer collaboration and UC capabilities, but a key difference is that they have a meeting-only client so you can separate your decision making. You can de-noise Microsoft Teams to some extent, but not fully – when you deploy Microsoft Teams you will need to consider features and capabilities outside of meetings. For example, file sharing in Microsoft Teams leverages SharePoint and OneDrive for Business, so you will need to consider these even if you don’t intend to fully leverage the functionality. This adds complexity, but it could align to your long-term UC objective. Alternatively, you may choose to decouple your meetings solution from UC and leverage multiple vendors. Either way, it’s worth considering your overall UC strategy now as it relates to your meetings decision.

Security & Reliability

All vendors provide their software as a service (SaaS), meaning that it is delivered out of the cloud. With all SaaS solutions, we must put faith in the vendor to ensure security and reliability. All vendors had publicly available “trust centres” providing access to documents, policies and procedures on how they handle and protect your data.

Pricing

If you are an existing Office 365 customer, a key benefit of choosing Microsoft Teams is that it is already included, so there is no additional cost. Although, both Zoom and Webex have a free tier – they limit meetings to 40 minutes and exclude some features such as single sign-on and active directory sync.

Prices are in New Zealand dollars and at the time NZ$1 = $US0.63.

Feature overview

Call Outs

  • Monitoring & Alerting e.g. cable unplugged alerts – Microsoft Teams doesn’t support this natively yet
  • Device Management Portal  – Microsoft Teams is pretty limited and currently only supports Desk and Conference Phones. Support for Meeting Room Systems (MTR) is coming

User Interface

Microsoft Teams

Microsoft Teams pre-join experience:

Microsoft Teams in-meeting experience:

Zoom

Zoom pre-join meeting experience:

Zoom in-meeting experience:

When sharing content, the meeting controls move to the top of your screen and auto-hide when not in use. You also get a movable always on top video preview window.

 

Skype for Business Interop

If you are already invested in Skype for Business, there are some client and server-side interop benefits other vendors cannot match. For example, Microsoft Teams and Skype for Business clients have “Better Together” capabilities that allow them to share presence and jointly control audio devices and call hold. Additionally, server-side interop allows Skype for Business and Microsoft Teams clients to coexist. There is also a “Meetings First” mode that allows you to move your online meetings functionality from Skype for Business to Microsoft Teams, while allowing Skype for Business to continue as the UC client for chats and calling.

Conclusion

You cant go too far wrong with any of the top 5 online meeting solutions. It really comes down to a companies personal preference. It’s worth considering your overall UC strategy as part of your decision making process, and if you are a Skype for Business customer, looking at whether you see any value from the interop features.

Again, please feel free to point out anything that you feel is incorrect or has changed since writing. Thanks for reading!

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