Tom Talks Microsoft Teams and Microsoft 365 news and opinions

What is Microsoft Teams (free)? What are the differences with Microsoft Teams paid?


What is Microsoft Teams (free)?

“Microsoft Teams (free)”, an odd name I know, is the version of Teams for home/consumer. The free link for Microsoft Teams has “teams-for-home” in the URL. It has also been called “Teams for Life” and “Microsoft Teams for personal and small business use”.

It is the version of Teams which has the “Communities for Teams” feature in it, which is basically the “teams” part of “Microsoft Teams” but aimed at a use case for consumer groups such as sports clubs/hobby groups.


What are the limitations of Microsoft Teams (free)?

  • Person-to-person calling/”Meetings” are limited to 30 hours max per meeting (so effectively unlimited, really?)
  • Meetings are limited to 100 people (300 in paid plans)
  • Meetings are limited to a max of 60 minutes (unlimited in paid plans)
  • No recording or transcriptions
  • Live captions in English only
  • No breakout rooms
  • No whiteboard
  • No webinars
  • No guest access to teams
  • No ability to add third-party Teams apps
  • No Multi-Factor Authentication
  • No access to support or uptime SLA
  • No exchange email account
  • No access to anything else in Office 365/M365





All users must either be on paid Teams or free Teams; you can’t mix and match.

Once you upgrade and convert from a free account to a paid account, you can’t revert to the free version using the same email address. The email address associated with your converted account can no longer be associated with a free account.

See the comparison chart here and here.


What is Microsoft Teams Free (classic)?

Confusingly, a completely different free version of Teams that is soon to be end of life. After April 12, 2023, Microsoft Teams Free (classic), the legacy free Teams app for business, will no longer be available. Users can upgrade to Microsoft Teams Essentials or switch to  “Microsoft Teams (free).”


Welcome to Microsoft Teams Free (classic)

Differences between Microsoft Teams and Microsoft Teams Free (classic)

Manage Microsoft Teams Free (classic)

What is Microsoft Teams Essentials?

This is a paid version of Microsoft Teams aimed at small businesses. The plain only contains Teams, not the rest of Office 365 / Microsoft 365.

There are actually 2 variants of Microsoft Teams Essentials, one bought directly from Microsoft using consumer accounts and one bought from partners using Azure AD accounts, “Teams Essentials using AAD”. Teams Essentials AAD has more features.


About the author

Tom Arbuthnot

A Microsoft MVP and Microsoft Certified Master, Tom Arbuthnot is Founder and Principal at Empowering.Cloud as well as a Solutions Director at Pure IP.

Tom stays up to date with industry developments and shares news and his opinions on his, UC Today Microsoft Teams Podcast and email list. He is a regular speaker at events around the world.

Tom Talks Microsoft Teams and Microsoft 365 news and opinions