Zoom has seen a boost in users over the last year, but with all the other options on the market, which service would fit best for you and your business?
This article will compare Zoom (which has gone from 10 million daily users to 300 million), Google Meet (over 100 million daily users) and Microsoft Teams (75 million daily users) in a series of categories such as free and paid-for features, and the software’s security.
What limitations do the free versions have?
Using the free Zoom package, you are able to host up to 100 people in a meeting for up to 40 minutes.
Using the free version of Google Meet, you are also able to host up to 100 people, but your meeting can last for 24 hours – until March 31st 2021, when it will be limited up to 60 minutes.
The free version of Microsoft Teams allows you to host up to 250 people in a meeting that can last for up to 24hrs, but only for a limited time as this will be cut down to 60 minutes at some point in the future. However, the information about the number of participants is not present on the website and many sources contradict each other so this is unclear.
How much are the paid-for versions and what features are available for the money?
Zoom has multiple tiers of paid services, the most business-friendly ones being ‘Pro’ – for small teams – and ‘Business’ – for small and medium businesses. Pro costs £119.90/year/license and increases the group meeting length from 40 minutes to 30 hours, as well as allowing you to record video calls, and offering social media streaming and 1GB cloud recording space. ‘Business’ costs £159.90/year/license and offers the same as ‘Pro’, with the added increase of the number of participants in a meeting from 100 to 300, and the addition of single sign-on, recording transcripts, managed domains and company branding.
Meet also has multiple tiers of paid services, the first tier at £4.14/month/user being the same as the free version but with added 30GB cloud storage. The next tier, ‘Business Standard’, costs £8.28/month/user and offers the ability to record meetings, as well as increasing video call participants from 100 to 150 and including 2TB cloud storage per user. The third tier is ‘Business Plus’ and costs £13.80/month/user to add eDiscovery, retention, Vault, advanced endpoint management, and attendance tracking on top of the previous tier. It also increases the participant numbers to 250 and offers 5TB cloud storage per user.
The first tier of Teams is the ‘Business Basic’ package at £3.80/month/user, which gives you the ability to record, increases the participant numbers to 300, lets you exchange email hosting with a custom email domain address, offers personal file storage and sharing with OneDrive at 1 TB per user, and adds additional Microsoft 365 services including SharePoint Online, Yammer, Planner, and Stream. It also includes single sign-on to all Microsoft 365 apps and services, enforced multi-factor authentication and advanced auditing and reporting. The next tier, at £9.40/month/user includes all of this, plus desktop versions of Outlook, Word, Excel, PowerPoint, Access and Publisher, and business apps including Bookings, Invoicing and MileIQ.
Is an account needed and what operating systems do they work on?
You need a Zoom account to set up your own meeting. However, you do not need an account to join a meeting that is set up by someone else. The desktop app is available for Windows and macOS, while the mobile app is available for Android and iOS. There is a Chrome App available which works on ChromeOS too.
With Meet, you also do not need a Google account if you are only going to join someone else’s meetings, but it is necessary if you are planning to set up your own meetings for others. Google Meet works in your web browser for Chrome, Mozilla Firefox, Apple Safari and Microsoft Edge browsers with no need for plugins or software to be installed. There are apps available for Android and iOS.
As is the same with Meet and Zoom, you do not need a Teams account if you are only planning to join meetings and video calls that are set up by others. To create your own meetings, you need to download Teams, which is supported across all major operating systems, such as Windows, macOS, iOS and Android.
What features do they have that could benefit a business?
Zoom offers screen sharing, breakout rooms, recording, whiteboards, closed captioning, chat while video calling, and virtual backgrounds, but does not have a background blur function. It also provides a set of additional features, which include an annotation tool and the ability to conduct polls.
Meet also offers screen sharing, breakout rooms, recording, closed captioning, chat while video calling as well as on its own, and virtual backgrounds, which does include a background blur function. It connects to other Google Workspace apps, such as Jamboard, which is available for free and acts as a whiteboard option during Meets. Meets does have other useful features, such as intelligent muting and a direct integration with other Google Workspace applications like Google Drive and Gmail.
Teams has a lot of the same functions, such as screen sharing, breakout rooms, recording, whiteboards, closed captions, chat available both in and out of video calls, and virtual backgrounds with a blur function. Other additional features include private channels, slash commands and the ability to conduct polls.
Are they integrated with other software?
Zoom is a cloud platform for video and audio conferencing, collaboration, chat, and webinars. As it isn’t part of a suite of apps, such as Google and Microsoft, there aren’t any other outside applications that can be used with it.
Meet is a Google product so it also works well with all the other tools of Google Workspace like Google Calendar – which makes it easier to create meetings or add information to a meeting – Google Drive, Gmail, Google Chat, and many others.
Teams is fully integrated with Office 365 so as the core capabilities of the software includes business messaging, calling, video meetings and file sharing, it can be integrated with Word, Excel, PowerPoint, OneNote, SharePoint and other Microsoft tools.
How good is the security?
Zoom has end-to-end encryption, which ensures that no third party – including Zoom – can see any of the call’s content. Due to competition, any past security issues are often fixed relatively quickly, which isn’t something often seen in other apps, such as Facebook, which don’t have a true competitor.
Meet doesn’t use end-to-end encryption but all data in Meet is encrypted in transport by default between the user and Google.
Teams encrypts data ‘in transit’: They store the data in a secure network of datacenters and use Secure Real-time Transport Protocol (SRTP) for video, audio and desktop sharing. The challenge for enterprises is that this encryption is fully controlled by Microsoft, not by the enterprise itself.
There is no obvious ‘winner’ for the ideal video conferencing tool. Ultimately, the final choice depends on your own business needs and requirements. All three services have their own pros and cons, and all have useful features for those who are working in the office or at home. Best of all, they each have very competent free versions available so you can see which you prefer and whether you would benefit from paying for the additional functionality.
[by Abigail King]