Back in December, Zoom had 10 million daily users and now it caters to more than 300 million participants every day. As the pandemic continues to go on, the numbers are expected to hit even higher in the next quarter. Unsurprisingly, Google and Microsoft jumped in without losing any moment and started improving their video conferencing software — Google Meet and Microsoft Teams — to rival against Zoom. It has been two months of continuous updates and feature additions by all three companies to outsmart each other. So in this article, we make a comparison between Google Meet vs Zoom vs Microsoft Teams to find out the best web conferencing platform. That being the case, let’s go through the article and learn about their UI, feature set, free offerings, security issues, and pricing.
Google Meet vs Zoom vs Microsoft Teams
Moving to Microsoft Team, well, in my testing, I found it quite unfriendly. Sure, it’s brimming with features, but it would take you some time before you can find the option and start or join a video meeting. Part of the reason why Microsoft Teams feels disjointed is that earlier it was a workspace for team collaboration through instant messaging — basically a Slack competitor. Only after the crazy success of Zoom, Microsoft merged Skype for Business with Teams to offer video meeting solution on its platform. Nevertheless, at its current form, Microsoft Teams is not the best in terms of UI when pitted against Zoom and Google Meet.
2. Offerings Under the Free Tier
The major reason Zoom found early success among both enterprises and general consumers goes primarily to its free plan offering. And now every other video conferencing platform is offering a free tier including Microsoft Teams which was earlier a strictly paid-only service. So here we will discuss the free offerings offered by Google Meet, Zoom, and Microsoft Teams and compare them side by side. Starting with Zoom, you get a 40-minute time limit per day if you have three or more participants (including the host) in a meeting.
However, if you are having a one-on-one meeting then there is no time limit. Apart from that, you can add up to 100 participants in a Zoom meeting, but again the duration is capped at 40 minutes. Further, you can locally record the video meeting and can save on your computer without paying any charge. What I love more about Zoom is that you get all the essential features like HD video, screen sharing, virtual background, encryption, and more under the free plan. You can learn more about the best Zoom features from the linked article.
Now let’s talk about Google Meet. Previously, Google Meet was part of the G Suite package, but in April, Google brought Meet to the general masses. Now, anyone can freely create web meetings and join one without paying a dime. However, there are some restrictions that you should know under the free plan. You can’t hold a web meeting for more than 60 minutes in a day– no matter if you have two or more participants. However, this 60-min time limit will not be applied until September 30 so that is awesome. Basically, you can attend a video meeting without any time restrictions and that makes it better than Zoom as far as the free plan is concerned.
Other than that, Google Meet also has a 100 participant limit under the free tier and supports features like live caption, screen sharing, gallery view, and more. However, keep in mind, Google Meet does not offer video recording either locally or through the cloud under the free plan.
As far as the free offering is concerned, Microsoft Teams has hit it out of the park with its free version of Microsoft Teams. There is no time limit and you can continue your web meeting for as long as you want. Further, the participant limit is 20, in comparison to Zoom’s paltry 3 users so that is great. And since you are subscribed to Microsoft Teams, you get other perks like unlimited chat, 2GB of cloud storage for each member, and 10GB of shared storage, real-time collaboration using the Office web apps, and more. Not to mention, you also get screen sharing and custom background features with Microsoft Teams similar to Zoom so that is awesome.
However, bear in mind, unlike Zoom, Microsoft Teams does not support local video recording. But if you want a video conferencing tool that does not come with any time restriction then the free version of Microsoft Teams is a perfect pick. Apart from that, you can also check out Skype Meet Now — a free web conferencing platform by Microsoft to quickly create and join web meetings without even having an account. It supports up to 50 participants with a ceiling of 10 hours per day.
Since we have almost covered the free features in the above section, here I am going to mention the paid and standout features available on all three platforms. On Zoom, you can host up to 100 participants and scale it up to 1000 users if you choose to get the expensive Enterprise plan. Keep in mind, these are participants who can interact with you in the meeting and not just viewers so that is really a high number. In comparison, both Google Meet and Microsoft Team max out at 250 participants. However, both companies are working to bring support for 1000 participants shortly. Next, if you wish to hold a webinar or a live stream then Zoom can handle up to 10,000 members in one session. In contrast, Google supports a massive 100,000 viewers and Microsoft Teams can go up to 10,000 attendees. So, if you wish to have a huge live stream then Google Meet is an apt choice.
Other than that, all three services offer cloud recording and third-party app integration. But the standout part about Google Meet is that it allows users to join web meetings through audio conferencing without paying an extra charge. For example, if you don’t have a smartphone at that moment or having internet issues then you can join the meeting through cellular voice. Both Zoom and Microsoft Teams ask users to buy an additional plan to use the call-in service. However, Google Meet does not charge any additional fee so that is great. Apart from that, Zoom and Microsoft Teams have native support for Automatic Audio Transcription of web meetings whereas Google Meet does not have it.
Another powerful feature of Zoom is the Breakout room which allows you to split a large web meeting into 50 different sessions. This feature is very helpful for university and college administrators. However, this particular feature has still not arrived on either Google Meet or Microsoft Teams. Furthermore, Zoom supports whiteboard and co-annotation during web meetings and again, this feature is not available on MS Team or Google Meet. Not to mention, Zoom comes with several keyboard shortcuts and third-party app integrations (like Snap Camera) to make your web meetings productive and fun. Considering all the points, it’s clear that Zoom has dedicated tools and advanced features for seamless video conferencing whereas Google Meet and Microsoft Teams are just catching up now. It’s not surprising as Zoom has been leading the web conferencing domain for quite some time. However, we will have to wait and see when these bigwigs like MS Teams and Google Meet come on par with Zoom in terms of feature set.
Of late, Zoom has been in the middle of many controversies regarding its encryption technique and privacy issues. On top of that, there have been accusations of data-sharing with China and Facebook which has made things worse for Zoom. Not to mention, the internet has been rocked by cases of “zoombombing” where strangers join Zoom meetings without having prior authorization. All these issues have forced Zoom to freeze its effort on new features and now it’s fixing the security and privacy issues. Thankfully, Zoom is addressing the issues quickly and have released Zoom 5.0 with fresh changes. Now, a host can quickly lock meetings, disable screen sharing, password-protect a meeting, and more. Also, Zoom is enabling passwords by default to avoid zoombombing. Further, Zoom has deployed a stronger AES 256-bit GCM encryption after The Intercept published a report saying Zoom does not support end-to-end encryption. By the way, it’s still not end-to-end but certainly a big improvement over the previous implementation
Coming to Google Meet, all data is encrypted in transit by default between the client and Google servers. The encryption extends to the web browser, Android, and iOS apps. Other than that, Google Meet adheres to the IETF security standard for Datagram Transport Layer Security (DTLS) and Secure Real-time Transport Protocol (SRTP). Google states that for every meeting, a unique encryption key is generated and it’s not stored anywhere. The unique key is transmitted in an encrypted and secured RPC (remote procedure call) during the meeting setup. In other words, it’s only encrypted while in transit and at rest so Google Meet does not have end-to-end encryption, but it’s quite secure.
And similar to Google Meet, Microsoft Teams also leverages TLS and SRTP protocols to encrypt the data in transit and at rest. Further, it uses GCM-256 encryption to stop man-in-the-middle-attack. It goes without saying MS Teams does not have end-to-end encryption but comes with ample safeguards to keep your web meetings secure. To sum up, all three services are using industry-leading security protocols. Further, Zoom has almost fixed most of its security issues. However, in the end, it’s your call as to which platform you find more trustworthy.
In terms of pricing, Zoom is quite expensive in comparison to Google Meet and Microsoft Teams. Zoom subscription starts with a monthly plan of $14.99 which gives you 100 participants limit. And the subscription can go up to $19.99 which includes 500 participants. In comparison, Google Meet just costs $6/month and offers all other goodies of G Suite as well. Plus, you get 250 participants limit even on the base plan. Similarly, Microsoft Teams costs $5/month with added benefits of Office 365, messaging, and cloud storage. On top of that, you can add up to 250 members in a web meeting. As you can see, Zoom costs around 3 times more than its competitor and offers less than half the participants of Google Meet and Microsoft Teams. I would say, if you don’t need advanced features then you can go with either Google Meet or Microsoft Teams. However, if you need premium tools and features for managing huge video meetings then Zoom deserves your top dollar.
The Verdict: Google Meet vs Zoom vs Microsoft Teams
As far as features are concerned for managing online video conferences then Zoom surely has an upper hand against Google Meet and Microsoft Team. However, both Google and Microsoft are continuously improving their services and adding new features every other day. At present, Google Meet and Microsoft Teams have all the essential features to deliver a great web conferencing experience. Simply put, with such a stark pricing difference, it’s hard to recommend Zoom to a student, freelancer, or a small company.
I would say, if you want a free solution for web meetings then go ahead and pick Google Meet without any hesitation. And if you are already invested in Microsoft products then Microsoft Teams would offer you a more cohesive experience. Finally, if you are a large enterprise and need a video conferencing solution with low latency, sprinkled with advanced features then Zoom will make you feel at home.