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Microsoft's Teams hits 44M daily users amid coronavirus self-isolation

The software giant's rival to Slack tallies 12 million new users in the past week as people are forced to work and study from home.

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The coronavirus outbreak has led to significant increases in Teams usage, particularly in hard hit areas. 

James Martin/CNET
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The coronavirus pandemic has upended daily life around the globe, forcing millions of people to isolate themselves at home instead of going to work or school. Instead, they're turning to internet apps to help them do all these things remotely. Microsoft says it's spiking usage in its Teams chat and collaboration service as a result.

Microsoft said Teams, which can be used for free, has attracted 44 million people each day to its service, including 93 of Fortune 100 companies and over 650 organizations with more than 10,000 users. The coronavirus outbreak has caused significant increases in usage, particularly from hard hit areas such as France, which increased Teams usage 7x in the past week. Teams usage in neighboring Spain jumped 10x, and the Netherlands rose 14x. 

In just the week from March 11 to March 18, Microsoft said 12 million new people started using its service on a daily basis. The increased activity came from a mix of new and existing users, the company added.

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"This is a turning point for us," said Jared Spataro, Microsoft's marketing head for Teams. He says in the past few weeks he's heard of doctors using Teams for triage and consultations, particularly with vulnerable patients. And schools that have switched nearly all their classes online. 

"It's been a tremendous burst from everyone being in the same situation as you and I are right now," he added.

Before the coronavirus changed daily life around the global, trends indicated more people were working away from the traditional office. Three years ago, Gallup said people were increasingly choosing their job based on flexibility to work remotely or from home. 

To keep employees communicating, many companies turned to chat apps like Microsoft's Teams, Slack and Facebook's Workplace

Now that large cities such as San Francisco are pushing people to work from home during the coronavirus crisis, Microsoft said it expects even more people will stick to working remotely.

In an effort to keep up, Microsoft's increased capacity for Teams by 600% since the crisis set in, including storage and extra computers to help manage the software. It's also lifted restrictions on its free version, allowing more people to join larger Teams without paying extra, effectively letting people use its premium version for the next six months.

"It's somewhat gratifying to know the reason people are using this is because otherwise they wouldn't be getting their work done," Spataro said. 

The information contained in this article is for educational and informational purposes only and is not intended as health or medical advice. Always consult a physician or other qualified health provider regarding any questions you may have about a medical condition or health objectives.