As the world continues to fear the coronavirus outbreak, more and more businesses and schools are looking for alternatives to in-person meetings and classroom time. Google has announced that it is committed to helping students and teachers continue to learn no matter where they are. Google plans to leverage its G Suite and G Suite for Education productivity apps and starting this week it plans to roll out free access to advanced Hangouts Meet video-conferencing capability to these customers globally.
The new capabilities that Google will offer at no cost include support for larger meetings of up to 250 participants per call. Live streaming for up to 100,000 viewers within a domain, and the ability to record meetings and save them to Google Drive are being added. Google says those features are typically in the Enterprise edition of G Suite and G Suite Enterprise for Education. The new features will be offered at no cost through July 1, 2020.
Google notes that in Hong Kong and Vietnam, where schools have already been closed, it has seen hundreds of thousands of students begin to use Hangouts Meet video conferencing tools and Google Classroom to join classes and continue learning from home. The coronavirus outbreak has seen businesses adjust travel plans for workers and change work from home policies.
Microsoft is also expanding its premium tier of Microsoft Teams with a free six-month trial globally. The premium tier was initially aimed at hospitals, schools, and businesses in China to allow them to get up and running quickly on Microsoft Teams. When users try and sign up for the premium tier of Teams, they will see a prompt to work with a Microsoft partner or a member of the sales team to get the service working.
Microsoft has said that it will launch an updated version of the free tier of Teams that will lift restrictions on how many users can be part of a team and let users schedule video calls and conferences. Schools and businesses aren't alone in canceling plans due to the coronavirus outbreak. Major conferences were canceled, including MWC 2020.