Microsoft to drop price for Teams Rooms, add free Basic tier for SMBs
Hardware still required – plus tolerance for visiting the office and remote collaboration
Microsoft has advised its partner community that it will soon drop the price it charges for Teams Rooms, and add a version of the product aimed at small business.
Teams Rooms is Microsoft's offering for customers who own dedicated collaboration hardware – microphones, soundbars, desk phones that pack screens and cameras, and other kit besides – from the likes of Bose, Poly, Lenovo, and Logitech.
Microsoft charges customers to operate those rooms over and above the cost of Teams licenses.
At the time of writing, those licenses cost $50 a month for a Premium license or $15 a month for a Standard service.
A Wednesday announcement for Microsoft partners reveals that the Premium offering is to be replaced by a $40/month Pro tier that "delivers enhanced in-room meeting experiences, like intelligent audio or video, multiscreen support, our full-set of device management capabilities, and future differentiated value."
"It's the appropriate license for the Enterprise segment and for smaller organizations with larger room counts or more advanced needs," the post states.
The current Standard tier will be retired in favor of "Microsoft Teams Rooms Basic, which provides core meeting experiences to customers when they purchase a certified Microsoft Teams Rooms device at no extra cost."
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At this point, readers who work at Microsoft partner orgs might feel a tad miffed they've been cut out of the loop by the Basic product.
Microsoft reckons they'll make up the difference with managed services to keep Teams Room hardware humming.
"Device management has continued to grow as a priority for our customers, and it's critical that we both accelerate our innovation in this area and expand the reach and value of our offer," Redmond's post continues. "As such, the AI-powered platform value from managed services will be included as part of the Microsoft Teams Rooms Pro SKU, with access to the intelligent device management dashboard available in the coming months."
Microsoft customers can also acquire up to 25 Basic licenses, so partner opportunities could be substantial even without a Pro license.
The Pro and Basic offerings will be announced to the public on September 6, but will be functional and can be sold from September 1.
Current users of Teams Rooms Standard and Premium are required to adopt the new schemes.
"We strongly encourage you to transition your existing Teams Rooms customers to the new Microsoft Teams Rooms Pro SKU at their next anniversary, or as soon as possible," Microsoft's post warns. The document also advises that as the SaaS device management service comes online, Microsoft staff will "no longer serve as intermediaries for the incident management workflows starting October 1, 2022."
Free trials of Teams Rooms Pro will be offered. Government, educational and charity customers will get to play for 60 days. The rest of you get just 30 days.
Hybrid work means on-prem collaboration kit is likely to be more valuable as team members spend less time in offices. Cutting the cost of running it may therefore be welcome. Shifting the maintenance revenue opportunity to Microsoft's partners should also go down well, if it provides them more opportunities to sell hardware and subscriptions. ®
Updated 04:00 UTC August 19th Microsoft has deleted the article on which this story was based but has not requested a correction or retraction. The Register knows what we saw and stands by the story.