Microsoft Teams is getting these new ‘community’ features, here’s how they work

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Microsoft

Microsoft is launching a new communities feature exclusive to Teams free users, who can now use its collaboration platform to create a space for groups to share ideas, organize events, share photos and more.

Communities in Teams could help boost the appeal of Teams among consumers, beyond Teams’ traditional enterprise user base. Teams communities is aimed squarely at consumers, available to anyone with a Microsoft account and the Teams free iOS and Android apps. It will be coming to desktop soon, according to Microsoft.

Anyone who has a Skype, OneDrive, Outlook.com, or Xbox Live has a Microsoft account. Users do need to be signed in with one account and then can access Teams communities via the Home tab. Those who normally use a work or school account need to switch to a personal Microsoft account to use the feature.

The Teams communities feature sounds a lot like what people tend to use Facebook groups for, blended with group communications capabilities people use on WhatsApp groups. It will be interesting to see whether, with these capabilities in a single app, Teams communities takes off among consumers and smaller businesses or groups that likely already use Facebook groups for events and WhatsApp groups for communications.

Teams free communities offers the usual chat, call and file-sharing capabilities, while group-related capabilities include posting messages to everyone in the group; organizing events and adding them to a community calendar for all to see; share and store documents for a group activity; and filter content to access photos, videos, events and links.

Microsoft hopes Teams communities will be adopted by recreational sports teams, various committees, parent-teacher associations, small businesses and more.

In January, Microsoft reported Teams had surpassed 270 million monthly active users. It hasn’t provided an update on user numbers since then, but in the mean time has been trying to grow user numbers by adding consumer features such as the integrated a Teams Chat button into the Windows 11 taskbar.

The communities feature could go along way to improving Teams user numbers beyond the enterprise users who’ve had Teams available with Office 365 and now Microsoft 365 since 2017.

Users can create a community in Teams free with Microsoft’s suggested community types on the home screen as well as add a group picture or branding for the community. The group admin can invite members via email, a phone number, via a link or QR code. Next year, Microsoft will offer access to SignUpGenius in Teams, a feature to help recruit volunteers, coordinate events and manage signups.

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