Microsoft Previews New Teams App for Windows

Microsoft announced on Monday that it has rebuilt and improved the performance of its Microsoft Teams application, and released a preview of this "new" app for commercial Windows users.

The new Teams app has speed and performance improvements over the current "classic" Teams app. A Microsoft Tech Community post listed the improvements, which were measured by benchmarking firm GigaOm. The new Microsoft Teams app can:

  • Install app up to 3X faster
  • Launch app up to 2X faster
  • Join meetings up to 2X faster
  • Switch chats/channels up to 1.7X faster
  • Consume up to 50% less memory
  • Consume up to 70% less disk space.

The new Teams app was also redesigned to make it more simple to use. For instance, Microsoft's design team promised that the new Teams app will swap out its present chat interface, which currently has an "open field at the bottom and a conversation that flows bottom-up," for a more traditional "post and reply experience at the top."

The design team admitted that the present chat interface in the classic Teams app just "confused people." More new Teams app design changes are described this announcement.

IT Management Perks
IT pros will get some perks with the new Teams app. Microsoft added the ability to use Microsoft Intune for "app deployment and updates." Intune supports the MSIX packaging format for deployments, which permits "silently" installing apps and removing them, while also "reducing network usage and disk space." The use of the MSIX packaging format also adds Windows security support to the new Teams app.

Additionally, the new Teams app is protected by "advanced security measures" such as "Trusted Types" and "more stringent Content Security Policy." These capabilities provide " increased protection against cross-site scripting (XSS) attacks," the Microsoft Tech Community post indicated.

New Teams App Notable Features
Microsoft is promising that the new Teams app lets organizations have multiple accounts for collaborations. The multiple accounts will work "seamlessly" with the new Teams app.

Here's how that aspect was characterized in the Tech Community post:

New Teams will enable you to collaborate more effectively across organizational boundaries by being actively signed into multiple accounts at the same time and receiving real-time notifications no matter which one is currently in use. You can seamlessly engage with users across multiple accounts and organizations without having to drop out of a call or meeting, ensuring no disruption to your workflow.

Microsoft is also touting artificial intelligence (AI) capabilities in the new Teams app. Microsoft previously described adding intelligent recap and Copilot for Microsoft Teams AI features, but more will be coming.

"We will use AI to take the work out of working together by getting you up to speed on what happened before you joined a meeting or chat and answering your questions all in the flow of the discussion," Microsoft promised, without providing specifics.

New Teams App Availability
The new Teams app preview is currently available for commercial Windows users (from Windows 10 version 10.0.19041 or later) if they are Teams public preview program participants. The preview will be available in "mid-April 2023" for Teams "Targeted Release" program participants.

Organizations wanting to use the new Teams app preview will have to enable it via "Teams update management policy" in the Teams Admin Center or via PowerShell. The preview can be enabled for individual users or for groups. There's a "UseNewTeamsClient" setting in the Teams Admin Center for the purpose, as described in this Microsoft document.

After the new Teams app preview is enabled via policy settings, end users will see a toggle switch at the top left that lets them switch to the new Teams app. They can also use this toggle switch to go back to the classic Teams app interface at any time.

Microsoft's document also included instructions on removing the preview. There's also a long list of "known issues" associated with the preview as well. Some of the classic Teams app capabilities are lagging in the new Teams app, such as support for "3rd party apps, Line of Business (LOB) apps, advanced calling features such as call queues, and advanced meeting capabilities, including breakout rooms."

Currently, the new Teams app is not available to Mac, virtual desktop infrastructure or Web users. It's also not available to government tenants. As for mobile Android and iOS Teams clients, there's no change, "since the new Teams is largely an architectural update focused on desktop, web, and VDI," the Microsoft Tech Community post explained.

General availability (commercial launch) of the new Teams app is planned for "later this year in 2023." Some platform support will lag a bit, with a preview of the new Teams app for Macs expected to arrive "later this year."

March Teams Improvements and Avatar Preview
A very long list of March Teams additions and improvements can be found in this announcement.

The standout among the bunch of new March Teams features is a preview of Avatars for Microsoft Teams. It's a cartoon character-like option to using regular video presence in meetings. Microsoft had introduced Avatars for Teams more than a year ago as part of its Mesh for Microsoft Teams debut, which includes background environments. Since that time, Microsoft has improved the lighting used with its avatars, to make them "more realistic."

It's currently possible to build and use the Avatars for Microsoft Teams preview, which has a landing-page description here. The avatar preview can be accessed by "Teams public preview" users on Windows and Mac, according to this Microsoft document. There's no Teams for Web support for avatars. Teams mobile app users can use the avatar preview, but they just have "view-only" support.

Microsoft is adding "59 new features to Teams" this month for end users. They include things like enabling "collaborative notes" in meetings, Live Transcripts during meetings and a "speaker coach" for feedback on presentation skills. Teams users also are getting the ability to disable chat for unauthenticated users, the ability of end users to set emergency locations for calls in the United States, and the ability of authorized users to change call queue and auto attendant greetings.

IT pros are getting a simplified left navigation panel in the Teams Admin Center. Their preferred menu options can be pinned to the navigation panel. They can view users and groups assigned to a policy. There's a "Deployment Advisor" that offers "guidance on deploying Teams Telephony."

About the Author

Kurt Mackie is senior news producer for 1105 Media's Converge360 group.


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