Coronaviruses are a large family of viruses which may cause illness in animals or humans. In humans, several coronaviruses are known to cause respiratory infections ranging from the common cold to more severe diseases such as Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS) and Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS). The most recently discovered coronavirus causes coronavirus disease COVID-19. The ongoing coronavirus outbreak has pushed companies and organizations to work remotely; as it is recently reported that Google and Microsoft have stated that they will provide grant access to their robust teleconferencing and collaboration tools to allow people to work from home.
This teleconferencing and collaboration tools provided by Google and Microsoft are facilities that are usually only given to enterprise customers to make it easier for people to work from home. These companies are only offering free access to this facility for a limited time. This was recently announced by Google who stated that they will be rolling out free access to “advanced” features for Hangouts Meet to all G Suite and G Suite for Education customers globally through July 1st. This implies that organizations can host meetings with up to 250 participants, live stream to up to 100,000 viewers within a single domain, and record and save meetings to Google Drive. In normal circumstances, Google charges $13 extra per user per month for these features in addition to G Suite access under its “enterprise” tier, which totals up to $25 per user per month.
Microsoft is also providing a free six-month trial globally for a premium tier of Microsoft Teams which was reported first by Business Insider. This tier was made to cater to hospitals, schools, and businesses in China to get up and running quickly on Microsoft Teams, and this tier is now available internationally. When an individual sign up for it, one needs to refer to a Microsoft partner or a member of Microsoft’s sales team member to get it set up. The company will also roll out an update to the free version of Teams that will remove restrictions on the number of users to be part of a team and allow users to schedule video calls and conferences.