(Pocket-lint) - It's fair to say that Zoom wrong-footed the entire video calling industry in 2020. It wasn't just a sidestep, it ran for the line, hit it for six, converted that try, shot from downtown for three points in the last second of the game - basically scored bigtime using whatever sporting analogy you can think of.
Google scrabbled with Meet - or was it Hangouts? - while Microsoft pushed forward Teams - or was it Skype? You can see where the confusion came in, stemming from trying to offer one product for business and another for lightweight personal use.
The big news is that Microsoft has now made a fairly significant step, opening up Microsoft Teams to personal users. That means you can have unlimited duration calls with up to 300 people, although those generous allowances won't be permanent - or in many cases useful.
Microsoft Teams uses your Microsoft login and previously was limited to corporate Microsoft account users - you had to be part of an organisation like a business or school using Microsoft 365. That means that while many of us have been invited to Teams calls, we've never been able to host them,
Now you can, if you wish, host your own Teams call on a personal account, you can set it up and share it with your friends and family and use it just as you would Zoom or Google Meet.
There are some fun features in here too, like Together mode - which appears to be a the exact same feature as Zoom's recent Immersive View offering - clipping users from the background and inserting them into a different scene, like around the dinner table.
There are emoji to respond react, you an have a running chat alongside you call - and that chat is preserved, so you an go back to look at it later. Yes, a bit like what you'd get on a business call. Microsoft wants you to take chat further, pitching it as a familly organisation tool like WhatsApp, with task assignment and other things, like you might get on a buisness tool.
For those who have been hankering to use Microsoft Teams for family and friends calls, you now can, although we do wonder if Microsoft has completely lost the room here: Zoom is now the colloquial term for a video call and we're not sure Teams will claw it back. Exactly where this leaves Skype now, we don't quite know - Microsoft is currently running two platforms, but hopefully it will end up with one smooth service that's good for both business or personal users.
We've found that our desktop app still won't let us access personal features, but it's worked perfectly well through the browser.