Posey's Tips & Tricks

There's No Escaping Microsoft Teams in Windows 11

The next phase of Microsoft's Teams push is tight integration between the collaboration platform and Windows 11 -- whether users want it or not.

Earlier this year, I wrote a column ("Don't Rule Out Microsoft Replacing Outlook with Teams") in which I suggested that Teams was quickly becoming Microsoft's favorite child and seemed to be the one app that Microsoft wants its customers to spend the bulk of their day using. I said that given the amount of attention Microsoft has been giving to Teams, I would not be surprised if Teams eventually replaces Outlook.

While I still stand by that, the bigger news of the moment is that Microsoft is going to be integrating Teams into Windows 11. This further illustrates just how important Microsoft considers Teams to be.

Although I don't think I ever mentioned it in an article, I halfway expected Microsoft to integrate Teams into Windows at some point. My reasoning was that video conferencing has become indispensable over the last year-and-a-half with most of the world's knowledge workers working remotely. The problem for Microsoft, however, is that it isn't the only game in town when it comes to video conferencing. In most countries, Zoom remains the most popular video conferencing platform.

Clearly, Microsoft would prefer everyone use its own platform instead. What better way to accomplish that goal than by simply building Teams into Windows? Besides, integrating Teams into Windows will help bring Teams to the consumer market, whereas Teams has traditionally been regarded as a business product.

I think my biggest question with regard to Teams being integrated into Windows 11 is whether Microsoft will make Teams optional. Think about the way Teams is currently installed with Microsoft 365. When you boot up your computer, Teams starts automatically and continues to run throughout the duration of your session. Yes, there is a way to keep Teams from loading automatically, but you have to make a conscious effort to do so.

There are a few reasons why am curious as to whether you will be able to disable or uninstall Teams in Windows 11. First, not every computer needs Teams. I have one Windows system that I use solely for recording the video courses that I create. My recording software is the only thing installed on that machine because I don't want any other software causing latency during the recording process or generating unwanted pop-ups while I am trying to record a video.

Similarly, Teams is known to consume a lot of memory. Check out Figure 1, for example. With Teams running idly on my laptop, it is consuming 543MB of memory. Teams can consume significantly more memory during a session, but is designed to release some of its excess memory when that memory is needed by other applications.

[Click on image for larger view.] Figure 1: Microsoft Teams consumes a lot of memory, even when idle.

Earlier this year, I took on a project that involved generating a 3-D image from many thousands of still photos that had been taken by a drone. Even though I was using a really high-end PC for the rendering process, the sheer demand being placed on the hardware was enough to bring the PC to its knees. I eventually got the project done, but I had to find some creative ways to stretch the available hardware resources. If Teams had been running in the background, there is absolutely no way I would have been able to get the project done.

Admittedly, my drone mapping project was really unique. Even so, it serves to illustrate that there are some workloads that are so CPU- and memory-intensive that even the best PCs have trouble handling them. That's one reason why I sincerely hope that Microsoft makes it possible to uninstall Teams from Windows 11.

Even if you are not planning to run any high-performance workloads, it's important to think about the implications that Teams may have on your machine's security. Now, in all fairness, Microsoft goes to great lengths to ensure the security of both Windows and Teams. Having said that, there is a law of computing that loosely states that the greater the volume of code that is running on a system, the greater the chance that some of the code will contain an exploitable security vulnerability.

In other words, reducing the size of the code base can help to make a system more secure.

In retrospect, I don't think there is anything wrong with Microsoft's decision to include Teams in Windows 11, so long as the company includes an option to uninstall Teams in situations where it is not needed. I think in the vast majority of cases, having Teams be automatically present and available for use will probably make things a bit more convenient for those who depend on the Teams platform.

About the Author

Brien Posey is a 20-time Microsoft MVP with decades of IT experience. As a freelance writer, Posey has written thousands of articles and contributed to several dozen books on a wide variety of IT topics. Prior to going freelance, Posey was a CIO for a national chain of hospitals and health care facilities. He has also served as a network administrator for some of the country's largest insurance companies and for the Department of Defense at Fort Knox. In addition to his continued work in IT, Posey has spent the last several years actively training as a commercial scientist-astronaut candidate in preparation to fly on a mission to study polar mesospheric clouds from space. You can follow his spaceflight training on his Web site.

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