The ongoing coronavirus outbreak has caused a lot of fears and worries worldwide, pushing companies and organizations to transition to remote work. In an effort to aid in keeping people safe from COVID-19, tech giants Google and Microsoft have said they will grant access to their more robust teleconferencing and collaboration tools that are typically only available to enterprise customers to make it easier for people to work from home. Both companies are only offering free access for a limited time.
In a tweet, Jean-Philippe Courtois, Microsoft Executive Vice President and President for Microsoft Global Sales’ Marketing and Operations, announced that Microsoft’s Teams collaboration platform will be free for six months so that the company’s employees, customers, partners and communities can continue working remotely. Microsoft Teams’ free version offers unlimited chat, search, one-on-one audio and video calls, NDTV reported. In addition, the platform gives users 10GB of team file storage so they can upload and share files to on another. It also offers 2GB of personal file storage per user. Microsoft says it will also roll out an update to the free version of Teams that will lift restrictions on how many users can be part of a team and allow users to schedule video calls and conferences on the 10th of March.
Google’s Sundai Pichar also announced via a tweet that the company is offering its Hangouts Meet collaboration platform for free until July 1 this year. The video teleconferencing tool will be free for all G-Suite customers around the world.
Cisco also announced that it is making its video conferencing tool Webex free wherever it is available, not just in countries where COVID-19 has been recorded. The tech company is also giving away free 90-day licenses for non-Webex customers so they will have a way to use the platform for remote work.
According to Sri Srinivasan, SVP and GM, Team Collaboration Group at Cisco, the platform offers unlimited usage, supports up to 100 participants in one conference call, and also offers toll dial-in in addition to the platform’s existing VoIP capabilities.
Both Google and Microsoft have also responded to COVID-19, the disease caused by the novel coronavirus, by canceling conferences taking place in April and May. Google has also halted most international travel for employees, and Microsoft has recommended that employees work remotely to help prevent the spread of the disease.