LONDON, UK - May 1st 2020: Microsoft teams logo on a smartphone
Picture: ink drop/Adobe Inventory

One of many quickest rising apps of the pandemic, Microsoft’s complete chat-based collaborative workspace integrates carefully with Microsoft 365 as a single place to seek out folks, content material and instruments, in addition to make calls and have conferences.

This TechRepublic cheat sheet for Microsoft Groups is an outline of the platform, and it is going to be revised periodically as new updates are launched.

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SEE: Google Workspace vs. Microsoft 365: A side-by-side evaluation w/guidelines (TechRepublic Premium)

When was Microsoft Groups launched?

Microsoft Groups launched 5 years in the past on March 14, 2017 throughout an organization occasion in New York.

What are widespread options of Microsoft Groups?

Typically regarded as competing with Slack and Zoom, Groups is extra than simply Microsoft’s tackle chat, communications and video conferences: It’s a hub for collaboration that covers file sharing, enterprise course of automation and a workspace that places apps and knowledge the place you’ll be speaking about work. That’s much like the way in which that Microsoft built-in SharePoint lists and knowledge from Microsoft Dynamics into Outlook up to now, however designed for real-time in addition to asynchronous collaboration.

Groups isn’t an open enterprise social community the way in which Yammer is: It’s designed for conversations between comparatively small numbers of people that work carefully collectively in a staff. That’s why there are limits on the numbers of individuals in a Groups staff or assembly – even with a paid subscription, the utmost variety of individuals in an everyday Microsoft Groups group video chat is 300. If you could work with prospects, suppliers or different companion organizations, shared channels enable customers to work collectively.

Instructions and bots provide you with further performance, whether or not that’s setting your standing or wanting up details about colleagues. Connectors usher in updates from providers like GitHub, Evernote, Zendesk, MailChimp, SAP SuccessFactors, Salesforce and lots of extra to Groups’ channels, and an API framework permits extra to be constructed, enabling companies to hyperlink their very own inside apps.

A gentle stream of latest options are designed to enhance distant and hybrid work, like Collectively Mode, which locations customers in a shared digital area (suppose an auditorium or espresso store) to assist create a greater sense of togetherness with out the exhaustion that often comes from folks on video. There’s additionally Presenter View, which permits presenters to view their slides alongside any notes they’ve made, see thumbnails of upcoming slides on the backside of the Groups assembly Window and pin a number of presenters so folks can see them on a regular basis.

Microsoft Groups helps dwell transcription and recording conferences, though they’re solely obtainable to folks in your tenant, not any exterior company you’ve invited to the assembly. Assembly recaps comprising a recording of the assembly, transcript, chat and shared information are additionally obtainable. AI routinely cleans up your video and removes background noise, and there’s a brand new excessive constancy mode for enjoying music.

For dwell occasions and webinars you may have bigger teams, however for the larger on-line occasions you will have an Superior Communications license. Along with dwell occasions and interactive conferences with massive numbers of individuals, this provides you branded backgrounds within the foyer and customized Collectively Mode scenes.

Groups is a part of Microsoft 365 and the deep integration with different Microsoft instruments and providers is a key a part of the expertise, whether or not that’s storing and sharing information by OneDrive and SharePoint, enhancing Workplace paperwork inside Groups, looking for colleagues by the Microsoft Graph, getting your Planner duties inside Groups, collaborating within the Whiteboard app, viewing Energy BI dashboards, retrieving buyer info from Dynamics 365, seeing the broader conversations from Yammer inside Groups or driving workflow in groups with Energy Automate.

Any internet app may be pinned inside Groups for simple entry, however the brand new Reside Share performance permits software program builders to create collaborative functions the place you may watch a video or discover a 3D CAD design with colleagues, and everybody can pause, rewind or change the point of view within the diagram in addition to edit the design collectively.

App builders can use Microsoft Loop to create chunks of performance like Adaptive Playing cards that usher in content material from an utility like Zoho Initiatives or ServiceDesk that customers can view and edit inside a Groups chat or Outlook e-mail.

There are variations of Groups for particular industries reminiscent of training and healthcare. Variations additionally exist for frontline employees, the place customers want barely totally different options, and varied Microsoft authorities clouds.

Microsoft Groups is designed to fulfill the identical safety and knowledge safety requirements as Microsoft 365 and is Microsoft 365 Tier C compliant. The service enforces two-factor authentication, single sign-on by Energetic Listing and encryption of knowledge in transit and at relaxation. One-to-one Groups calls even have end-to-end encryption.

Microsoft can be including controls to assist organizations defend delicate info from being shared or leaked. Info limitations enable corporations to restrict which staff members can talk and collaborate with one another. Safe Non-public Channels let organizations management which staff members can see conversations and content material in a selected Groups channels.

What does Microsoft Groups combine with?

Groups is a part of the Buyer Lockbox in Microsoft 365, which provides an approval workflow for Microsoft to entry your tenant whenever you want help.

If you wish to construct your personal functions that do voice and video calls (and doubtlessly combine these into groups), you should utilize the Azure Communications Service, which provides you a similar voice, video and chat infrastructure that Groups makes use of as a service.

Groups help can be built-in into Home windows 365 and Azure Digital Desktop to enhance video efficiency by making peer to look connections.

How do I exploit Microsoft Groups?

While you sign up to Microsoft Groups, your group could have already arrange totally different groups that you may entry, or you may create a brand new staff and invite colleagues to affix it. These are based mostly on Microsoft 365 Teams, and every has a number of channels with tabs for chat, information (saved in OneDrive for Enterprise), a wiki and probably – in the event you used a template to create the staff – related OneNote notebooks and different apps. You’ll be able to have textual content, audio and video conversations and share your display screen with everybody within the staff, or only one to some folks.

To assist hold chats straightforward to comply with, conversations are threaded, circulation from high to backside and notify customers of updates. Conferences get automated captions, transcriptions and translations, and people are saved into OneDrive for Enterprise for folks to make amends for later.

The Groups view reveals you the groups and channels you’re a part of; different buttons on the left rail of the Groups app present you notifications, information, chats and calls from all of your totally different groups, plus your calendar and apps you’ve chosen to pin, whether or not these are Microsoft 365 apps like OneNote, Viva Insights, or Planner (which is known as Duties by Planner inside Groups), workflows and apps you or colleagues have created within the Energy Platform, or certainly one of over 1,000 third-party apps you could find within the Groups app retailer.

To assist customers monitor and prioritize duties, Microsoft Lists is obtainable in Groups. Equally, customers can create, handle and share mission sign-offs immediately inside Groups utilizing the Approvals operate.

In case you’re utilizing the private model of Groups, you simply get the exercise, chat and calendar buttons. Groups for customers additionally sports activities a brand new assortment of dwell emoji reactions and GIFs, which individuals can use to enliven their calls.

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Many apps open in their very own tab (both on the high degree of Groups or inside a staff) however some apps are extra like bots that work inside a channel: You’ll be able to drop Energy BI dashboard or a Microsoft Types type right into a chat and pull in notifications from integrations like GitHub – or flip a groups dialogue into a brand new concern on GitHub. Every staff has an e-mail deal with you should utilize to have emails copied proper into the Groups dialog the place everybody can see it.

The Workplace apps are built-in in Groups to be able to open a Phrase, Excel or PowerPoint file from a chat or the Recordsdata tab and skim or edit it within the Groups window. If you could do issues the net model of the Workplace apps can’t do, you may click on to open the doc within the desktop Workplace app.

Use @ mentions in Workplace feedback and folks will get notifications in e-mail or Groups relying on their preferences. With the brand new Cameo function in PowerPoint it’s also possible to add a stream out of your Groups video proper into your slides so that you’re seen when presenting remotely. You probably have a Microsoft 365 account that offers you entry to Groups, it’s also possible to use some providers you’d usually want an additional licence for, like Visio and Dynamics, inside Groups .

You can also make voice and video calls to colleagues with Groups or use it as a full VoIP cellphone service with Groups Cellphone (with the suitable subscription) with options like velocity dial, name historical past, maintain/resume, velocity dial, switch, forwarding, caller ID masking, extension dialing, multi-call dealing with, simultaneous ringing and voicemail. Groups customers may chat and name with Skype customers and vice versa.

The Groups cell apps have most of the identical options as Groups on the desktop, like blurring the background in calls so well being employees don’t have to fret about confidential affected person info being seen, however there are additionally some industry-specific options just like the Groups Walkie Talkie app that integrates with rugged handhelds utilized by retail and warehouse employees.

Groups additionally works in bodily convention rooms, with Groups Room and Floor Hub integration, in addition to help from many third celebration assembly room units. As Skype for Enterprise On-line was retired on July 31, 2021, most organizations who had been utilizing the service have already been migrated to Groups (in the event you haven’t, anticipate Microsoft to schedule an assisted improve that doesn’t have an effect on Skype for Enterprise Server, which has Mainstream Help by January 9, 2024).

Microsoft has additionally built-in Groups with its augmented-reality headset HoloLens to allow a Distant Help function. This function permits a employee within the subject sporting the headset to share video of what they’re with an skilled again on the head workplace utilizing Microsoft Groups.

Who’re Microsoft Groups’ opponents?

The free shopper model and the truth that it’s included in Workplace 365 and Microsoft 365 subscriptions made Groups extensively used even earlier than the pandemic, and it was one of many quickest rising apps through the Coronavirus lockdowns. Groups had 20 million customers in November 2019: By April 2021, there have been 145 million each day energetic customers and 270 million month-to-month energetic customers by January 2022. Viva, which is constructed on Groups, had greater than 10 million month-to-month energetic customers of its personal by April 2022.

In March 2019, there have been 500,000 organizations utilizing Microsoft Groups; now there are greater than 270,000 academic organizations utilizing the service. By July 2021, 124 organizations had greater than 100,000 folks actively utilizing Groups and virtually 3,000 with greater than 10,000 customers. Microsoft says all that provides as much as greater than 270 million customers throughout house, college and work.

There are a number of chat and collaboration providers that compete with Microsoft Groups, though not one of the options are as strong and full-featured, and you could want to make use of a number of providers to match all of the performance in Groups.

Slack is extensively used as a chat and collaboration service; it contains video conferencing, file sharing, automated workflows for widespread duties and integrations that allow you to get notifications or retrieve info from apps from inside a channel. You’ll be able to even combine Microsoft Groups Calls.

Zoom is a video conferencing service utilized by enterprise and residential customers alike that you should utilize to run webinars and occasions, use as a PBX or mix with bodily assembly rooms, but it surely has far fewer integration choices than Groups.

Google Workspace contains Google Meet for video and voice conferences and Google Chat for messaging.

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Webex is dearer than Groups and is greatest recognized for video conferences, though it additionally helps file sharing, whiteboarding and messaging.

GoToMeeting is a web based assembly software program with choices for integrating with bodily convention rooms, however to get staff chat and PBX and calling options with integration to apps, you’d have to improve to GoTo Join.

How a lot does Microsoft Groups price?

Microsoft Groups is free for private use (you simply want a Microsoft account) for chat, voice and video calls, however in case you have a Microsoft 365 Private or Household subscription you may have bigger and longer group calls – as much as 30 hours and 300 folks fairly than 60 minutes and 100 folks.

There’s additionally a free model of Groups for small companies with the identical assembly limits however further options like scheduled conferences and Collectively mode and restricted admin options. You get the identical longer and bigger conferences with the $4/month Microsoft Groups Necessities subscription, however if you’d like extra administrative choices, breakout rooms, assembly recordings, visitor entry or the broader collaboration, you want one of many many Microsoft 365 subscriptions that embrace it. For small enterprise customers that’s Microsoft 365 Enterprise Primary, Enterprise Commonplace or Enterprise Premium – all however the Primary plan allow you to host webinars.

For enterprises, Groups is included in Workplace 365 E1, E3, E5 and F3, and Microsoft 365 E3, E5, F1 and F3. The latter contains further frontline options like Walkie Talkie, Duties Administration, Shift Administration, and Approvals. Reside occasions and webinars are included in Workplace 365 E3 and E5 and Microsoft 365 E3 and E5. Workplace 365 E1 solely has dwell occasions. There are separate add-on licenses if you wish to combine bodily assembly rooms with Microsoft Groups.

Enterprises may add audio conferencing to let folks be part of conferences by dialing in at no further price in North America with any of those subscriptions, however if you’d like Groups Cellphone VoIP calling and PBX options like name management, or to have the ability to host conferences from a cellphone name, you want Microsoft 365 E5 or a further Microsoft Groups Cellphone subscription.

Microsoft Groups for Training has particular options for lecturers and college students like integration with OneNote class notebooks, getting the varsity timetable, submitting assignments, supervised chat, the Replicate software to help Social and Emotional Studying and instruments like Studying Progress and Insights to assist lecturers knowledge about pupil exercise, progress or issues.

When and the place is Microsoft Groups obtainable?

Microsoft Groups is cross-platform, with shoppers for Home windows, Mac, Linux, Android and iOS, or you should utilize it within the browser. It helps 53 languages and dialects (50 for voicemail and 38 for textual content to speech). Audio conferencing is offered in 11 nations worldwide.

How do I get Microsoft Groups?

In case you use Home windows 11, the buyer model of Microsoft Groups is routinely put in with the working system, however you may solely use it with a private account, so in the event you’re utilizing it with a Microsoft work account you’ll have to obtain the consumer or use Groups in an internet browser simply as you’d on different working techniques and units. Sign up along with your work, college or private Microsoft account, and also you’re able to go.


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