Forget FaceTime, Try Teams on Windows 11 – PCMag

Microsoft Teams isn’t just for Office users anymore: With Windows 11, you can use it to chat with colleagues, friends, and family on any device, on any OS. Here's how.
Teams—Microsoft’s free messaging, calling, and videoconferencing app—formerly exclusively targeted business users. Now open to consumers, it’s preinstalled on Windows 11 and available for Android, iPhone, Linux, Mac, and the Web, too. For Windows 11 users, it’s right there in the middle of the newly centered taskbar. Though you may already use Facebook Messenger, Skype, WhatsApp, or one of many other cross-platform messaging services, there’s no reason not to give Teams a shot. Here’s how.
The first step to get started with Teams is dead simple: Click on this icon in the center of the taskbar:
Right after this, you’ll see a welcome panel that briefs you on what the app can do:
As you may suspect, next you click Get Started. This will prompt you to sign in with your Microsoft account. After that, you sync contacts. (I’ve mixed it up in the following shot, using dark mode and left-aligning the taskbar):
Now you’ll see contacts from your Microsoft account populating the Teams popup (I’ve erased personally identifiable information):
Chances are good your contact won’t be using Teams yet (unless they’re a coworker), but don’t let that stop you from clicking on their entry. When you do so for someone not using Teams, whether you have an email or cellphone number for them and whether you choose Chat or Meet, the app will send an invitation to get on board the system:
Once the chat’s going, you can give the chat group a name and invite other users:
I found Teams had not synced some contacts from my phone to my PC, but I could add them by using their email or phone number. One interesting tidbit is that I could conduct an SMS conversation with a contact without them signing up for or installing Teams. SMS uses can even participate in group chats with Teams user and SMS users mixed together.

You can insert attachments, emoji, Giphy, or polls in your conversation. Chatters can also react to messages with a thumb up, heart, and other reacji.
Unfortunately, you can’t convert a text chat into a video chat, as you can with FaceTime or Skype. One convenience, however, is that you can see and reply to messages in the Windows 11 notification panel, even for those Teams-to-SMS conversations:
When you choose Meet, the separate Teams app starts, and a video room appears. You can blur the background before you enter. You can also set up a lobby system so that you must approve participants before they enter the room. This is similar to how Zoom Meetings works:
A video room can have up to 300 participants, with 49 showing on-screen in a 7-by-7 grid. Participants can virtually raise their hand or present their screen to the group.
You get 60 minutes free for group chats of up to 100 participants and 24-hour calls for one-to-one calls. (In a temporary offer during these times of working from home during Covid-19, Microsoft is increasing the group limits to 300 participants and 24 hours.) A cool, unique feature of Teams is Together mode, which puts all the participants into one environment, such as a kitchen table or an outdoor amphitheater:
You don’t need to upgrade to Windows 11 to use Teams, nor do you even need to use Windows at all, but Windows 11 puts the service front and center. Head to our Windows 11 page for more coverage of Microsoft’s new operating system, and you may also want to check out Can My PC Run Windows 11 and How to Use Snap Layouts in Windows 11.
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Michael Muchmore is PCMag’s lead analyst for software and web applications. A native New Yorker, he has at various times headed up coverage of web development, enterprise software, and display technologies. Michael cowrote one of the first overviews of web services for a general audience. Before that he worked on PC Magazine‘s Solutions section, which covered programming techniques as well as tips on using popular office software. He previously covered services and software for is a leading authority on technology, delivering Labs-based, independent reviews of the latest products and services. Our expert industry analysis and practical solutions help you make better buying decisions and get more from technology.
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