Clearly concerned about the sudden explosion of Zoom, Microsoft has unexpectedly released it’s own equivalent of the popular video conferencing app, and it’s called Skype Meet Now.
While Microsoft Teams is great for video conferencing and setting up meetings and Teams, it’s not the easiest app to get users connected to. Despite the safeguarding issues I raised in another post, Zoom ballooned in popularity since remote working became the norm, which have lead to it garner a huge mind-share with consumers, teachers and students in a very short period of time.
Most notably, Zoom has a number of really great features which either don’t exist in Microsoft Teams or are much easier to use in Zoom. These include viewing more than four students at once in a window, quickly creating public links to video meetings, and the ability to connect to a call without an account.
Skype Meet Now attempts to address some of the short comings of Microsoft Teams by removing as many barriers to entry as possible. Skype Meet Now:
- Runs in Google Chrome and the new Chromium version of Microsoft Edge.
- Doesn’t require any app or software installs.
- Is completely free.
- Allows you to quickly set up and share a meeting link.
- Doesn’t require an account.
- Calls can be recorded and stored for up to 30 days in the cloud.
- Background can be blurred — but no potato option sadly.
- Screen sharing is built in
But there are also some disadvantages:
- Calls are limited to 50 people.
- Doesn’t appear to support more than four video feeds on screen at once, a significant problem with Teams as well.
- Calls limited to 4 hours, with a 10 hour limit per day.
- On some mobiles devices the Skype app is still currently required.
Skype Meet Now also looks suspiciously like a cut down version of the Teams chat and video conferencing feature, which is clearly an attempt to familiarise people with the Teams interface. I’ve no doubt that we will see Skype Meet Now merge with Microsoft Teams in the near future.
This is an interesting move from Microsoft as it comes at a time when the company is subsuming all of its communication apps into Microsoft Teams, and the Skype brand appears to be deliberately being relegated to history. I would have expected this to be branded Teams Meet Now, but maybe the Teams consumer mind-share isn’t ready for this just yet.
This is an interesting move from Microsoft, clearly designed to head off Zoom at the pass, but for schools this will have minimal impact, at least on teaching. As I outlined in my article about the safeguarding issues surrounding Zoom last week, Skype Meet Now doesn’t go much further than Zoom and in some respects is a step backwards. Skype Meet Now has no option to manage user accounts, no option to set school-wide policies and permissions, and no monitoring aspect to it at all. In this regard, Microsoft Teams is still the best Microsoft product on the market to carry out online lessons.
Skype Meet Now is useful only for creating easily accessible staff to staff or staff to external contact meetings. At the least, maybe this is an easy alternative to all those Zoom install requests I’ve been getting recently.