Microsoft aid on Thursday that video calling usage of its Teams productivity software had risen in recent weeks as employees work remotely.
According to Jared Spataro, Corporate Vice President for Microsoft 365, Microsoft has seen a new daily record of 2.7 billion meeting minutes in one day, a 200 percent increase from 900 million on March 16. And as students and teachers turn to Teams for distance learning, there are 183,000 tenants in 175 countries using Teams for Education.
Microsoft has also seen total video calls in Teams grow by over 1,000 percent in the month of March.
Among the countries with the most active Teams users, Microsoft saw people in Norway and the Netherlands turn on video most, with about 60 percent of calls including video. People in Australia use video in meetings 57 percent of the time, Italy 53 percent, Chile 52 percent, Switzerland 51 percent, and Spain 49 percent. Meanwhile people in the U.K., Canada, and Sweden use video 47 percent of the time and people in Mexico and the U.S. use it 41 percent and 38 percent respectively.
According to Microsoft's data, people in India use video in 22 percent of meetings, Singapore 26 percent, South Africa 36 percent, France 37 percent, and Japan 39 percent. This may be attributed in part to less access to devices and stable internet in some regions such as India and South Africa.
To make video calls more inclusive, the raise hand feature Microsoft announced last month is rolling out globally this month. It lets meeting participants indicate they have something to say during a meeting by clicking on a hand-raise icon in the meeting control bar.
Today, the coompany is releasing the ability for meeting organizers to end a meeting for all participants with the click of a button. Meeting organizers can now find an option to “end meeting” in the meeting control bar options.
Later this year, Microsoft will bring real-time noise suppression, which uses AI to reduce distracting background noise such as loud typing or a barking dog in Teams meetings.
Microsoft Stream is a service that powers live events and meeting recordings in Teams. As a result of Microsoft's customers moving events online, the number of Stream videos in Teams per week has increased over five times in the last month with hundreds of hours of video uploaded per minute.
In addition, Microsoft says that engagement in Teams on mobile devices has increased exponentially in several regions most impacted by the crisis including Netherlands, Italy, Spain and France.
Despite some employees returning to work, there are still more than two times the number new Teams users each day in China compared to end of January. The number of daily active Teams users in China also continues to grow week over week.
Microsoft's Teams competes with apps such as Slack Technologies Inc and Zoom Video Communications Inc.
Other remote work and learning tools have also experienced rapid growth.
For example, at end-to-end encryption messaging service Wickr, which offers fully encrypted video calls with as many as 50 participants, business sales have more than doubled each week for a month, said Chief Executive Joel Wallenstrom.
Wickr typically serves executives or security teams within a large company who want its encryption to discuss financial or government secrets, rather than displacing Teams, Zoom or Slack.
“We had a customer that had 150 core users,” Wallenstrom said. “But when there wasn’t a lot they could do out of the office, so they went to 80,000 in two weeks.”
Slack said last month that simultaneously connected users increased to 12.5 million on March 25 from 10 million on March 10. Zoom’s daily meeting participants ballooned to more than 200 million in March from a previous maximum total of 10 million.
But Zoom’s rise has drawn a global backlash over security and privacy concerns, with Google this week banning the use of its desktop app by employees and a California school district suspending Zoom use after an intruder exposed himself and shouted racial slurs during a video meeting of high school students.
Google Classroom Users Doubled
In related news, Google Classroom, a free service teachers use to send out assignments and communicate with students, has doubled active users to more than 100 million since the beginning of March. Meet, a videoconferencing app is being used 25 times as much as it was in January, and the broader G Suite for Education offering has 120 million users, up from 90 million a year ago.
Google Classroom was already popular in the U.S., but demand is now coming from places with few customers before the virus, such as Italy and Indonesia, according to Avni Shah, Google’s vice president for education.
Google Classroom competes with dozens of other learning-management systems including Canvas and Edmodo, which let schools upload and track coursework. Classroom syncs with those systems and integrates with other school apps, which, like Google’s, are now booming. And crucially, Google’s product is free, while most competitors charge money for premium features.