You might just want to try Microsoft’s app Teams, an option to Slack, if you are looking for an app to use to meet your friends or co-workers online, especially if you use any sort of the Microsoft 365 app suite. For such activities as instant messaging, working on files, and hosting video meetings, you can use teams.
Although teams were initially built for work teams, a free home account can be signed up for by anyone.
Microsoft actually allows up to 300 participants at each of its free online meetings, with a limit of 60 min per session, with the COVID-19 pandemic in mind.
(These allowances are set to expire on June 30th, 2021.) Like the premium version, the free version includes screen sharing, personalized backgrounds, and scheduled meetings, but if you want to document your meeting, you need a paid version (starting at $5 per month as part of Microsoft 365 Business Basic)
You will either have to sign in with your Microsoft account before you start, or make one and then sign in. (An account with any email address can be created; it doesn’t have to be an Outlook address.) You can also download desktop or smartphone apps if you like.
- On the left-hand side of the page, click on ‘Meetings.’ You will be given the option of either arranging a future meeting or immediately starting one.
- If you click “Meet now,” you will be on a prerequisite screen where you have the option to name your meeting, turn on or off your audio and video, and add a backdrop (or blur your real background). Once you’re ready, press ‘Enter now.’
- If you click “Schedule a meeting,” you will receive a pop-up that lets you name the meeting and select the date and time of the meeting.
- You are asked to copy the invitation or share it via Outlook or Google Calendar once you click “Schedule”
- You can see a row of buttons at the bottom of the screen when you start your meeting. These allow you to turn on or off your camera from left to right, switch on or off your mic, share your screen, access more options, see the conversation, display participants (on the right side of the screen in a column), or hang up. To access additional options such as entering the full screen, allowing live captions, raising your hand, or switching off video for participants joining the call, press the three dots in the centre.
- Click upon its ‘Show Participants’ button on the right side of the row of buttons to select participants. Then enter the names of the people you want to invite (if they are in your contact list) in the right sidebar, or press the ‘Share’ button to copy the meeting connection or submit an invitation by email.
- New participants who are using your link to join the meeting will first stand in a virtual lobby and will be told, “Someone from the meeting should let you in soon.” If you are hosting the meeting, click on the checkmark next to their name to add them to the call when their name appears in the “People” sidebar. If you have not activated the sidebar, you will get a small pop-up window at the bottom of the screen above the “Show participants” button to warn you that they are waiting; to add them to the call, click “Admit”.
And it’s that! You will be able to log in to it at any time because your meeting connection is exclusive.