Coronavirus leads to free video conferencing software from Microsoft, Google and more

(Image credit: Microsoft)

The coronavirus, which has infected nearly 100,000 people and led to more than 3,000 deaths, is increasing demand for remote-friendly services as companies encourage people to work away from the office. Web platforms, as a result, are giving members free services or upgrades to fulfill that need.

We've recently reported on Google Hangouts -- a service we love to use at our Laptop Mag offices -- which is offering free upgrades to G Suite users as a result of the coronavirus. But now we're hearing about other companies following in the tech giant's footsteps.

LogMeIn, a software company that offers remote access connectivity for collaborative communication, is another platform extending a helping hand. The platform is offering a free three-month "Emergency Remote Work Kit," which includes solutions for webinars, virtual events, video conferencing, management of employees' remote devices, and more.

"As organizations of all sizes struggle with health fears and disruptions, we feel we are in a position to help tackle these challenges head on," LogMeIn’s CEO Bill Wagner told Laptop Mag in an email. "We will be offering free, site-wide licenses of GoToMeeting, GoToWebinar and other remote work tools to local and regional municipalities, hospitals, educational institutions and non-profit organizations and our current customers for three months."

Microsoft Teams, a communication and collaboration platform that also offers video meetings, is jumping on the bandwagon, too, with a free six-month offering of Microsoft Teams' premium version due to the coronavirus crisis, PCWorld reported.

Microsoft launched a free version of its Teams service in 2018, but reserved some top-tier features for its paid Teams package.

Cisco Webex and Zoom are also offering free, remote-friendly services due to coronavirus concerns," ZDNet reports. "The former is offering free 90-day business licenses, and the latter is offering China-based users with free "unlimited meeting time for conferences with more than two participants."

Video conferencing platforms -- as well as Clorox and hand sanitizer brands -- have seen their stocks soar amid COVID-19 fears.

John Knightly, CMO of BlueJeans -- a video conferencing platform that offers remotely friendly solutions for laptop and mobile users -- told Laptop Mag that he's seen interest for BlueJeans services skyrocket in recent weeks.

"Some individual organizations have seen their BlueJeans video conferencing traffic surge over 50% since January," Knightly told us.

Although the coronavirus has been casting a dark cloud on workplaces around the world, these free services and extra features are making it easier for people during the global fight against the virus.

Kimberly Gedeon

Kimberly Gedeon, holding a Master's degree in International Journalism, launched her career as a journalist for MadameNoire's business beat in 2013. She loved translating stuffy stories about the economy, personal finance and investing into digestible, easy-to-understand, entertaining stories for young women of color. During her time on the business beat, she discovered her passion for tech as she dove into articles about tech entrepreneurship, the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) and the latest tablets. After eight years of freelancing, dabbling in a myriad of beats, she's finally found a home at Laptop Mag that accepts her as the crypto-addicted, virtual reality-loving, investing-focused, tech-fascinated nerd she is. Woot!