As lockdowns continue, the demand for video calling continues to surge

Video Conferencing

Microsoft has stated that video calling and educational usage of the Microsoft Teams productivity software had grown in recent weeks as employees work remotely and some US schools cancel in-person classes for the rest of the school year. 

Microsoft said that video calls on Teams, which competes with apps such as Slack and Zoom, were up 1,000% in the month of March. The company said the proportion of meetings and calls that included video more than doubled to 43% from 21% over the month of March.

Jared Spataro, corporate vice president for Microsoft 365 at the company, said Microsoft’s data showed video use interspersed throughout the workday.

“We will see spurts in a team of videoconferencing, but then we see people go offline and do a bunch of work in chat and documents, and then they’re back again,” he said.

Microsoft also said that 183,000 education organisations, each of which can include multiple schools, in 175 countries were now using its Teams for Education, although it did not give a previous baseline. Overall minutes spent in meetings by all Teams users hit 2.7 billion on the 31st of March Microsoft said, triple the 900 million minutes on March 19.

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With billions of people around the world under lockdown orders to slow the spread of the coronavirus, remote work and learning tools have experienced rapid growth.

For example, at end-to-end encryption messaging service Wickr, which offers fully encrypted video calls with as many as 50 participants, business sales have more than doubled each week for a month, said CEO Joel Wallenstrom.

Wickr typically serves executives or security teams within a large company who want its encryption to discuss financial or government secrets, rather than displacing Teams, Zoom or Slack.

“We had a customer that had 150 core users,” Wallenstrom said. “But when there wasn’t a lot they could do out of the office, so they went to 80,000 in two weeks.”

Slack said last month that simultaneously connected users increased to 12.5 million on the 25th of March from 10 million on the 10th of March. Zoom’s daily meeting participants ballooned to more than 200 million in the month of March from a previous maximum total of 10 million. Neither figure is directly comparable with each other or Microsoft’s figures.

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But Zoom’s speedy rise has drawn a global backlash over security and privacy concerns, with the likes of SpaceX and others telling employees not to use the platform. Google, this week banned the use of the desktop app by employees and a California school district suspending Zoom use after an intruder exposed himself and shouted racial slurs during a video meeting of high school students.

Via our content partners at Reuters. Reporting by Stephen Nellis and Joseph Menn in San Francisco. Editing by Peter Cooney.

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