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Teams Rooms vs. Zoom Rooms: What's the difference?

Both Teams Rooms and Zoom Rooms offer compelling video conferencing services, but there are important distinctions between the two.

Video conferencing has become the de facto method of collaboration with co-workers, partners and customers. It has taken on an even greater role as businesses ask employees to come back into the office either permanently or in a hybrid setting.

While plenty of unified communications and collaboration vendors offer support for stationary conference room video offerings, two products -- Microsoft Teams Rooms and Zoom Rooms -- are consistently at the top of that list. Let's explore Teams Rooms vs. Zoom Rooms, their key benefits and differences, and how to choose which is right for your organization.

What is Microsoft Teams Rooms?

Unlike the Teams software application installed on PCs and used individually, Teams Rooms hardware and software are tailored for conference rooms to provide a standalone video conference system for multiuser settings. The package includes Microsoft's software, as well as hardware from certified vendors, such as Cisco, Dell, Lenovo and Poly. It's offered in three categories: small spaces, or huddle rooms, accommodating up to five people; medium rooms for up to 11 people; and large rooms designed for 18 people or more.

Teams Rooms hardware is network-connected and integrates natively into Microsoft 365. Employees can use their Teams software application or Outlook to reserve room space. Once in the room, most systems offer a dedicated touchscreen device to start and join meetings and to customize the viewing and content-sharing layouts. Single or multiple high-definition cameras and microphones are deployed throughout the meeting space to deliver clear audio and video for all participants.

Microsoft offers two Teams Rooms licensing options. The Basic license is free and comes pre-installed on certified Teams Rooms hardware. The license enables up to 25 meeting locations per business, and participants can join meetings with one-touch, wireless content sharing and use other real-time collaboration features.

The second license, Teams Rooms Pro, is geared to larger organizations and those that have more than 25 conference room locations. Licenses are tied to the conference room hardware. Pro includes all the features of Basic, along with the following:

  • Ability to connect multiple displays.
  • Digital whiteboarding.
  • Live transcription.
  • Teams Phone interoperability.
  • Additional room layout choices.
  • Improved security.
  • AI-powered problem detection with automated remediation.

Teams Rooms Pro is priced at $40 per room, per month and is billed on an annual basis.

What is Zoom Rooms?

Much like Teams Rooms, Zoom Rooms offers several certified third-party video and audio hardware options -- among them Logitech, Poly and Yealink -- that work well in small and large conference rooms. Additionally, Zoom offers a few ways to deploy Zoom Rooms Hardware as a Service -- essentially enabling businesses to rent the hardware instead of purchasing it outright.

Also, like Microsoft, Zoom Rooms features include remote conference reservations through various applications, including Outlook, one-click meeting join features, wireless content sharing and whiteboarding. Unlike Microsoft, however, Zoom Rooms is offered via a single license, purchased either monthly ($49 list) or annually ($499 list) per room.

Teams Rooms vs. Zoom Rooms: What's different?

While both Microsoft and Zoom offer excellent multiuser room features, their approaches differ. The most significant is that Teams Rooms is tightly integrated with the Microsoft 365 suite, while Zoom Rooms is a more standalone product that interoperates better with non-Microsoft collaboration tools and, as a result, offers far more third-party app integrations. That said, Microsoft's collaboration with Cisco enables Webex meetings to function seamlessly on Teams Rooms devices.

Zoom Rooms is thought to be easier to use and deliver a somewhat superior video conferencing experience. Teams Rooms focuses more on collaboration and productivity within meetings and less on achieving the market's best video and audio experience.

Choosing the video conference room system that's right for you

Much of the decision about whether to deploy Teams Rooms vs. Zoom Rooms is driven by an organization's use of Microsoft 365. Suppose employees use the Teams desktop app and associated Microsoft 365 services, such as Outlook, OneDrive and OneNote regularly. In that case, it makes sense to go with Teams Rooms as it offers native integrations with all these apps and more. Furthermore, if the organization has fewer than 25 conference rooms, the Basic license lowers Opex.

On the other hand, if an organization is not tethered to Microsoft 365, Zoom Rooms delivers a great option that delivers an improved video and audio conferencing experience, along with more third-party integration options.

Andrew Froehlich is founder of InfraMomentum, an enterprise IT research and analyst firm, and president of West Gate Networks, an IT consulting company. He has been involved in enterprise IT for more than 20 years.

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