The Advanced Communications option will expand the Teams meetings limit to 1,000 attendees.

Jeffrey Schwartz

August 26, 2020

4 Min Read
Microsoft Teams on Android Phone

Scrambling to match Zoom’s capacity to host up to 1,000 interactive video meeting participants, the answer from Microsoft is Teams Advanced Communications.

Launched during this month’s Enterprise Connect virtual conference, Advanced Communications is an optional SKU to commercial Microsoft 365 subscriptions. It will cost $12 per month, per user on top of Microsoft 365 subscriptions. Microsoft is offering 60-day free trials.

Advanced Communications is the only option Microsoft is offering for Teams customers who need to scale to 1,000 meeting participants. Microsoft emphasized that it will not offer Advanced Communications without Microsoft 365 subscriptions.

While the Microsoft Teams Advanced Communications option is available now, the company released it with minimal features. Notably, the software giant has not yet turned on the option for up to 1,000 meeting participants. Microsoft said that option, among other new capabilities, will come to Teams Advanced Communications later this year.


Microsoft’s Nicole Herskowitz

“Advanced communications [is] a new offering designed to help our customers scale teams to a whole new level, while maintaining professionalism and IT control,” said Nicole Herskowitz, general manager for Microsoft Teams, during an Enterprise Connect session.

Currently, the maximum number of participants that can attend an interactive Teams video conference is 300. Zoom already supports up to 1,000 interactive attendees, and up to 20,000 can attend a view-only session. When Microsoft delivers the complete Advanced Communications option, Teams will be on par with Zoom’s meeting participant limit.

Microsoft’s road map as of Aug, 21 showed support for 1,000 Microsoft Teams attendees might not arrive until December. A spokeswoman said the company does not have an official release date for that feature.

We recently broke down 12 new Microsoft Teams virtual meeting features.

While coveted features remain in development, the Advanced Communications option released this month allows 20,000 view-only participants for live events. The subsequent update will allow 20,000 to also participate in meetings in view-only mode.

Other Teams Advanced Communications Features

Besides expanding the capacity of participants, Teams Advanced Communications will eventually include another Zoom feature: support for branded meeting lobbies.

Advanced Communications will also enable integration of calling workflows into communications systems. Furthermore, it will provide monitoring, tracking and analysis of data to track performance on devices.

Further out, Microsoft said it will add tools to build other customizations and communications improvements. the company walked back a misstatement that Advanced Communications would include compliance recording and communications data loss prevention (DLP). But Microsoft now offers APIs that will allow integration compliance recording and contact center platforms.

However, partners have lamented that such APIs are usually free. Among them is Matt Landis, CEO of Landis Technologies, a Microsoft gold certified partner.

Partners Critique License Fees

In a recent blog, Landis, who welcomed the features that Advanced Communications ultimately will include, questioned the …

… licensing model.

“For users who do not need advanced meeting features, but need compliance recording, the net effect is paying for usage of the Microsoft Graph APIs,” Landis noted. “And in the case of call recording, a license that costs more than call recording vendors typically charge per user.”

Landis lamented that Microsoft’s plan to charge for using the Graph APIs is unusual.

“I am not aware of other products like Exchange, SharePoint or Azure charging to use Graph API to interact with a product a user is already licensed for,” he noted. “Also, in the industry, vendors like Zoom include REST APIs in their lowest tier user pricing. This could seem like Microsoft is not incentivizing ISV’s to build their solutions on the Microsoft communication platform, which is almost certainly not the effect Microsoft is wanting to achieve.”

Scott Gode, chief product marketing officer of managed services provider Unify Square, agreed, but said Microsoft is not the first to do so.

“As an industry, APIs have been free across the board from platform providers like SAP, Microsoft, Zoom, etc.,” Gode said. “But there have been instances over the last number of years where some software and or hardware providers have looked to start charging for APIs. Plantronics, before the Polycom merger happened, started to charge for APIs to access data coming out of their headsets. Zoom is dallying with charging for APIs to access some of their analytics. And now Microsoft is at least saying they’re going to do that for the compliance recording portions of the graph API.”

Gode does not believe these players are doing so for revenue purposes. More likely, he said, was to make sure only qualified partners are using the APIs. Nevertheless, he believes it is a bad practice.

“I think I probably speak for all partners as well as a lot of customers that data should be freely flowing,” Gode said. “And there should be ways to govern how data is exposed and secured. But attaching additional charges is not necessarily the right way to go.”

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About the Author(s)

Jeffrey Schwartz

Jeffrey Schwartz has covered the IT industry for nearly three decades, most recently as editor-in-chief of Redmond magazine and executive editor of Redmond Channel Partner. Prior to that, he held various editing and writing roles at CommunicationsWeek, InternetWeek and VARBusiness (now CRN) magazines, among other publications.

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