Microsoft Teams Essentials QuickStart guide for small businesses

Microsoft Teams Essentials is a standalone Teams subscription that provides an all-in-one solution with meetings, chat, and collaboration for small businesses. As your business adapts to the increased need for remote working and virtual connections, you may be searching for a way to securely collaborate with employees, partners, suppliers, and customers. Whether you're a multi-city bakery, or a nine-person event agency, Microsoft Teams Essentials can bring your business together through one connected experience.

Before you continue

Microsoft Teams Essentials is available for purchase through Microsoft's direct website and select Microsoft Cloud Partners. Subscriptions through direct and partner differ in some ways because they use different identity systems. Visit the table later in this article for more details, go here: Microsoft Teams Essentials plans

A subscription purchased through Microsoft's direct website uses Microsoft account identity which allows you to use your existing email address like TomislavK@outlook.com, TomislavK@gmail.com, or TomislavK@ContosoLandscaping.com to sign up.

Alternatively, Teams Essentials purchased through select Microsoft Certified Partners uses Azure Active Directory (AAD) which asks you to create a new login/identity. Partners can configure Teams Essentials to connect to your existing email address so you can sign in using your existing email address.

What Microsoft Teams Essentials subscription do I have?

If you purchased Teams Essentials through Microsoft's website (direct), you own Microsoft Teams Essentials.

If you purchased Teams Essentials through a Microsoft Certified Partner, you own Microsoft Teams Essentials (AAD identity).

How does Microsoft Teams Essentials compare to other Microsoft Teams plans?

The following table lists the major Microsoft Teams features available across plans. Certain caveats apply. See the footnotes for further information. This table may change without notice. For the most up-to-date, complete list of features, visit Microsoft Teams service description.

Microsoft Teams Plan Microsoft Teams (free) Microsoft Teams Essentials Microsoft Teams Essentials (AAD Identity) Microsoft 365 Business Basic
Feature
Meeting and Calling Yes Yes Yes Yes
Unlimited group meetings Yes Yes Yes
Unlimited 1:1 calls Yes Yes Yes Yes
Group meeting participant capacity 100 300 300 300
Group meeting duration 60 minutes 30 hours 30 hours 30 hours
Screen sharing Yes Yes Yes Yes
Customized Backgrounds Yes Yes Yes Yes
Live transcription Yes Yes Yes Yes
Schedule meetings Yes Yes Yes Yes
Calendar app Yes Yes Yes Yes
Together mode Yes Yes Yes Yes
Live reaction Yes Yes Yes Yes
Noise suppression Yes Yes Yes Yes
Meeting attendees can join meetings without an account Yes Yes Yes Yes
Send meeting invites to a phone number Yes Yes
Meeting recordings & transcripts Yes Yes
Real-time translation Yes Yes
Breakout rooms Yes Yes
Whiteboard Yes Yes
Host webinars that include attendee registration pages, email confirmations, and reporting. Available in Business Standard
Chat and collaboration
Unlimited chat (private & group) Yes Yes Yes Yes
Real-time collaboration in Office apps Yes Yes Yes Yes
Guest access: Chat w/anyone inside & outside your company Yes Yes Yes Yes
Polls Yes Yes Yes Yes
Group chat templates Yes Yes
Teams and Channels Yes Yes
Productivity apps and services
File & document cloud storage (per user) 5 GB 10 GB 10 GB 1 TB
Word, Excel, PowerPoint web & mobile apps Yes Yes Yes Yes
Google calendar sync Coming soon Coming soon Yes¹ Yes¹
App Extensibility (250+ integrated apps & services) Yes Yes
Exchange email hosting with customer email domain address 2 GB² 50 GB
Security and compliance
Microsoft Teams data encryption at rest and in transit Yes Yes Yes Yes
Single sign-on to all services Yes Yes
Administration and support
Administration tools for managing users, apps, settings & policies Yes Yes
Migrate existing data & users to Microsoft 365 Yes Yes
Ability to add-on services including Audio Conferencing & Teams Phone Yes Yes

1 Provides connection to Google Calendar and other 3rd party calendars with the following configuration: Microsoft Teams Essentials (AAD Identity) Configuration Guide

2 Teams Essentials (AAD Identity) through partner includes 2GB Exchange mailbox and no archiving, allowing users to sync with third-party email providers.

Important

To get enhanced administration and entire full set of Teams features, you'll need to upgrade to the full version of Teams by purchasing an appropriate Microsoft 365 or Office 365 subscription plan for your users. We recommend this as you'll have more flexibility to manage the way your organization collaborates.

Administration limits and specifications for Microsoft Teams Essentials

Go here: Microsoft Teams limits and specifications to learn more about the limits, specifications, and other requirements that apply to Teams.

Get Microsoft Teams Essentials

Is your business new to Microsoft Teams? Thanks for choosing Microsoft!

To get started with Teams Essentials, follow these steps:

  1. Purchase the subscription. Go to Microsoft Teams Essentials for small business and select Buy now under Microsoft Teams Essentials.
  2. Sign up with your existing email address. Use an existing email address and follow the instructions to purchase user licenses.
  3. Review Teams service description. Visit Microsoft Teams service description to learn more about Microsoft Teams.

When you've completed these tasks, you're ready to plan, deploy, and use the Teams app.

To do that, complete these three steps:

  1. Install the Teams app. Install the Teams client on your PC or mobile device by going to Download Microsoft Teams and selecting an option under Teams for home. Ensure that you've downloaded a Teams for home option as Teams for work and school are not compatible with Teams Essentials. Screenshot of Teams for home download option

  2. Get Familiar with Teams. The best way to become familiar with Teams is to start using it right away. Take some time to explore the application so you have a better understanding of its capabilities.

  3. Plan for adoption. For small businesses, planning for user adoption can be as simple as individually showing your users how to use Teams. Often, small business customers don't consider this step for new applications, which negatively affects the application's success and adoption.

  4. Manage Microsoft Teams Essentials. Similar to the free version of Microsoft Teams, you have a limited admin role as the first person to sign up for Teams Essentials in your organization. You can add and remove team members and specify whether anyone can invite another members with this role, but you won't have advanced administrative capabilities or access to the Microsoft Teams admin center.

Upgrade from a free version of Microsoft Teams to Microsoft Teams Essentials

If your organization is using a free version of Microsoft Teams, you can easily upgrade to the Teams Essentials version by purchasing a plan for your users directly in Teams.

Upgrade Requirements

You can upgrade to Microsoft Teams Essentials if you're the person who signed up for the existing Teams free subscription. In the free version of Microsoft Teams, the first person who signed up for Teams in your organization has a limited admin role.

Note

To upgrade and transfer your data, you have to buy your subscription through the Teams application upgrade process outlined in this section. Upgrading to Teams Essentials is not currently supported for Teams free (classic) users. You can upgrade to the full version of Teams by following the steps in this article: Upgrade from Teams free to Teams.

Limitations

Keep the following limitations in mind:

  • You can't switch back to Teams (free) after you upgrade.

  • You can't merge multiple Teams (free) tenants into a single paid tenant.

  • All users must be in the same domain. (All users will get a login in the format username@domain.com.)

  • All users must be upgraded: a mix of Teams (free) and paid subscription users in the same tenant isn't supported.

Important

If you're currently using Microsoft Teams free (classic), you go here to upgrade to Microsoft 365 Upgrade from Teams free to Teams.

How do I upgrade my organization?

To upgrade to the Microsoft Teams Essentials version of Teams, select ... in the top navigation menu. Next, select the Upgrade button at the bottom of the dropdown menu that appears. screenshot showing Upgrade button

After selecting the Upgrade button in Teams, you'll be directed here: Microsoft Teams for Small Business

Enter the current email address you use to sign into Teams, and then purchase the Microsoft Teams Essentials plan.

Can I purchase Teams Essentials using AAD identity through Microsoft's website?

No. Teams Essentials with AAD identity is only available through select Microsoft Cloud Partners. If you're interested in working with a Partner, visit Find a Microsoft Partner Cloud Solution Provider.

Can I use an existing email system with Microsoft Teams Essentials?

Yes. You can keep your existing email system and leverage Teams Essentials to meet, chat and collaborate.

Can I connect my existing calendar solution with Teams Essentials?

Yes. You can sync existing calendars from Outlook.com and Google with Teams Essentials.

To connect an existing calendar solution with Teams Essentials (AAD Identity), follow the instructions later in this article.

How do I connect my current email and calendar with Teams Essentials (AAD Identity)?

To get started, visit Connect Microsoft Teams Essentials (AAD Identity) to an existing email system with calendar for more information. You can connect an existing email system like Google Workspace to Microsoft Teams Essentials (AAD Identity) to stay connected across platforms with integrated calendars and sign in.

Can I upgrade Teams Essentials bought directly through Microsoft's website to Microsoft 365?

Upgrades from Teams Essentials to Microsoft 365 will be available soon.

More information

  • Visit Configuration Guide for configuration steps on connecting Microsoft Teams Essentials (AAD Identity) to an existing email system with calendar

  • To find out more about Teams versions and their capabilities, visit Compare Teams plans