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Teams vs. Zoom: Pros, cons, and what's best

Cathy Reisenwitz

by Cathy Reisenwitz on April 6, 2021

microsoft teams vs zoom

Microsoft Teams (Teams for short) and Zoom are two popular workplace video conferencing / collaboration platforms. To help you decide which is the right tool for your team we’ve compared Microsoft Teams vs Zoom based on their features, user interface (UI), and more.

Teams might not be on your list of video conferencing tools. And Zoom might not be on your list of enterprise messaging tools.

But perhaps they should be. PCMag has nice things to say about Teams’ video conferencing capabilities. And Mio calls Zoom Chat’s chat functionality “precisely what you’d expect from an all-singing, all-dancing collaboration tool.”

In terms of popularity, Zoom is the winner: 36% of U.S workers used it in 2020. PCMag described Zoom as the “go-to video conferencing application for the masses with over 200 million daily users.”

But Teams might be catching up. In 2020, 19% of employees in the U.S. used Teams and it boasted 44 million daily users. Microsoft products like Teams tend to be popular among workers in enterprise companies and government organizations. Teams powers 93 of the Fortune 100, along with more than 650 organizations with 10,000+ users.

Both offer web and mobile apps as well as desktop apps for Mac, PC, and Linux.

So what differentiates Teams and Zoom? Let’s compare.

User interface (UI)

Neither tool is particularly hard to use. Both offer light and dark modes / themes in their free plans.

PCMag describes Zoom as “relatively simple to use compared to much of the competition.”

Teams, on the other hand, “is a powerful tool for staying in touch, once you've become familiar with it,” according to PCMag. Teams’ primary navigation consists of a list of teams, rather than channels like in Zoom and Slack. The channels exist within teams. But unlike Zoom and Slack where you communicate in channels, in Teams channels simply contain tabs where you can get to where you communicate.

“Like the IKEA warehouse, Teams is orderly, but also hyper compartmentalized,” PCMag writes. “You may have to dive four layers deep (Teams > Team > Channel > tab) to find a conversation.”

Video conferencing

Both Teams and Zoom provide a ton of great video conferencing features, even in their free offerings, including:

  • Unlimited group and 1:1 voice and video calls

  • Virtually raise a hand during a meeting

  • Premade and custom virtual backgrounds

  • Ability to record meetings

  • Breakout rooms

  • Join or host meetings from your desktop app, web app, or phone

  • Screen sharing

  • Guest access

Teams has some powerful video conferencing features that Zoom lacks. For instance, while both offer live captioning, Teams’s captions will identify the speakers.

Both can make text transcriptions available. This is available in the Business plan for Zoom, which is $199.90 / year / license.

The tools really diverge for larger organizations and large live-streaming broadcasts. Free Zoom plans allow up to 100 participants, and even at the most expensive tier the limit only goes up to 300. To host events with up to 1,000 attendees, you need to buy the Large Meetings add-on.

Teams can host live events with up to 10,000 attendees in the Office 365 E3 plan, which is $20 / user / month paid annually. You’ll also have to use a streaming platform and Content Delivery Network (CDN) to make it happen.

Teams offers longer group meetings in their free plan, topping out at 60 minutes versus Zoom’s 40. Once you start paying, Zoom offers 30 hours to Teams’ 24 at every pricing tier.

Teams also makes it dead-simple to call any teammate, or even your whole team. Just click their name to see whether a video camera or phone icon appears. To call the channel, click the camera icon in the upper right corner. No answer? You can leave a voicemail (but like, just text). If you see a video camera icon next to a conversation, there's a video call in progress. You can click that to join a meeting automatically without having to be let in. Teams also allows you to give another user control of your keyboard and mouse when you’re screen sharing so they can advance your slides while you present or offer tech support.

PCMag calls Teams “the choice for professional-looking broadcasts.” Let’s say you want to record a meeting and then share the meeting recording. Teams allows you to convert each presenter's video into a discrete video that you can stitch together however you want with your own video editing software. Then, you can upload it to YouTube, Vimeo, or wherever.

Teams also facilitates group virtual whiteboards for coding and brainstorming.

The main drawbacks include how much more difficult it is to get someone who isn’t using Teams into a call compared to Zoom meetings. For example, to join a Teams call from your phone you have to install the Teams app. To join a live event, you must download a streaming player such as Azure Media Player, Yammer, or Teams.

Another advantage Zoom has over Teams is that Teams will only display nine participants on a call simultaneously. Zoom can fit as many as your screen will allow. Zoom will also touch up your appearance and adjust your lighting. Plus, it offers Snapchat-like AR filters and reactions. Background noise suppression is enabled by default. You can adjust how much background noise you want to allow if you want to play background music, for example.

Zoom facilitates Q&A during calls, if you want that separate from the chat.

Perhaps the best thing about Zoom is how easy the calls are to set up and join. With our Zoom integration, you can add a Zoom call to your meeting with one click while also putting it on Autopilot. With or without Clockwise, you can invite people to join by clicking one link, no meeting ID, code or download required. Or they can dial-in with their phones. The Pro Zoom plan, which is $149.90 / year / license lets you stream your video to social media and store up to 1GB of video per license in the cloud.

If you’re on Outlook, it’s more relevant to know that Teams offers tight integration with Microsoft products.

Messaging

Again, both tools have a ton to offer in their free plans, including:

  • File sharing

  • Chat in multiple, customizable public and private channels

  • Ability to edit and delete messages

  • Public or private group chats

  • Ability to save messages for later

With Teams, you can send messages to your entire organization, certain people outside your organization, channels, private channels, and individuals. You can also write one message, and then post it to multiple channels. Teams allows you to turn notifications on or off for each channel. Teams supports GIFs from Giphy, embedded images, and polls. You can also use emoji in your channel names.

Free Zoom Chat accounts can support up to 500 team members. Paid users can create private channels with up to 5,000 members. Zoom Chat offers message archiving and third-party storage. It also offers a personal space to send yourself reminders and files.

You can search messages in Zoom Chat and Teams, but Teams has more advanced search functionality, including the ability to filter your search results by date. PCMag appreciates “Microsoft SharePoint file mapping for its ability to easily locate core or evergreen content your team needs to access regularly.”

Bottom line

When it comes to Microsoft Teams vs Zoom, both collaboration tools offer high-quality video conferences and chat functionality.

When it comes to Microsoft Teams vs. Zoom, you can always use both. Zoom has great ease-of-use, fun features, and makes it super easy for anyone to join a call. But while Zoom Chat does have basic features, most organizations are going to want a dedicated chat app such as Teams or Slack for channels, notification management, advanced search, and GIFs.

Cathy Reisenwitz

Cathy Reisenwitz

Cathy Reisenwitz is Head of Content at Clockwise where she oversees the Clockwise Blog and The Minutes Newsletter. She has covered business software for six years and has been published in Newsweek, Forbes, the Daily Beast, VICE Motherboard, Reason magazine, Talking Points Memo and other publications.

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