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Get Ready for the New Microsoft Teams Update

Michael Hamer Apr 4, 2024 8:30:00 AM
Image of person typing on a laptop whilst being on a virtual call with other workers.

The time has come for all Microsoft Teams users to switch to the new Teams; this time, it's here to stay.

My name's Michael Hamer, and I'm on hand to discuss how your Microsoft Teams experience is set to change, what aspects may improve, and other general things to look out for.

Those of you who caught onto this wave early by switching to the new Teams in the autumn of 2023, when the new Teams was generally made available for Windows and users, may have already come to grips with what the new app has to offer. However, if you have yet to notice any difference in performance or features, stick around, and we'll explain exactly what's changed and how you can better use one of Microsoft's most popular products.

What is Microsoft Teams?

With over 320 million users and adoption by 91% of Fortune 100 companies, Microsoft Teams has become a cornerstone for communication and collaboration for organisations globally. Microsoft Teams plays a vital role in the modern workplace, whether for remote work, virtual meetings, or project collaboration.

At its most basic, it’s a chat app with video calling; if you build on it, it can become your company’s go-to place for working together on projects, finding apps, and using AI.

What's Changing?

Microsoft has claimed that its updated version of Microsoft Teams is the 'fastest yet'. The tech giant set out to build this latest iteration with a 'performance-first mindset', making it more straightforward, faster, and more flexible than ever before.

Performance Improvements

The question we all want to know is: How will it affect the overall performance of Microsoft Teams? The new and improved version of Microsoft Teams was built to give its 320 million users worldwide the best possible experience by providing a high-performance application that improves user experience while making it more efficient in terms of power and reduced memory usage.

Emerging technology research company Giga Omni Media (GigaOm) reported that the new Teams will be two times faster (on average) when loading the app, joining meetings, and switching between chats and channels, all while taking up 50% less memory and disk space than the old Teams. 

If your work means having lots of browser tabs and Excel files open and you’re on an older laptop, I’m sure you noticed running a Teams call could often cause a bit of a slowdown. Having run the new Teams since last year, I’m happy to say it is much better at running alongside other apps.

User Interface Enhancements

Unlike the previous iteration, the user interface's look and feel have been replaced with a cleaner, brighter, and more polished feel. The entire interface is based on a simplified and streamlined user experience, making applications and features more accessible at a faster rate.

The new teams will give users a more tailored experience, enabling them to control the appearance, accessibility, and notification preferences within their Microsoft Teams app. It's also more accessible for colour-sensitive users, as colour contrast settings can be configured via Windows 11's contrast themes.

The new Teams will also consider people's preferences on their devices; if you opt for a dark mode or a lighter contrast, it will consider this and update your Teams accordingly.

Features and Functionality

Perhaps the best aspect about the new Teams is that Microsoft has gone away, taken the things we know and love about Microsoft Teams, and reintroduced the same tools and capabilities in a more streamlined format. As a Microsoft 365 user, you're entitled to the same features and functions as before and then some!

Improved Collaboration and Workflow Streamlining

Microsoft Teams is predominantly a collaboration tool, so it's no surprise that the new features it's introduced are collaboratively orientated.

People App

Instead of accessing all of their contacts via the Teams chat, users now can manage their contacts directly in the People App. You can find it by typing "people" in the search bar, and it should appear as a preinstalled application within Teams.

The People App has two types of contacts: Directory Contacts and Local Contacts. Directory Contacts are synced directly from your organisation, whereas Local Contacts are stored within your localised version of Teams and don't sync automatically with your organisation's directory – ideal for contacts you interact with regularly outside of your organisation.

The new Teams People App is handy for managing interactions with people inside and outside your organisation. It also syncs directly with Outlook, streamlining contact management across Microsoft 365.

Windows Notifications

As previously mentioned, notifications within Teams have also changed. You can now customise your notifications' style and appearance, giving users much more control over the level of detail they wish to be informed about.

Say you're working to a deadline and focusing on a high-priority task; you can adjust your Windows notifications preferences accordingly so that they don't appear or emit a distracting sound.

Enhanced Meeting Experience

As of 2023, Statista estimates that 300 million users log onto Microsoft Teams every day to take advantage of the array of collaboration tools available. It's safe to say that the majority of those will use Teams to arrange virtual meetings with clients, stakeholders, and colleagues.

When building the new version of Teams, it seems Microsoft set out to enhance the experience within these meetings by adding a range of various enhancements such as:

Customisable Meetings Views

If you've been in a virtual meeting via Teams with more than one person, you'll have been placed in a "meeting stage" or "gallery" - a central area where all participants are placed alongside their live video feeds. For those unfamiliar with it, it's essentially a main screen that displays everyone participating in the meeting.

In the new Teams, this gallery experience has undergone significant improvements. All meeting attendees will be presented in tiles of equal size (16:9 aspect ratio), regardless of whether their camera is turned off or on. Furthermore, AI optimisation prioritises participants with raised hands and the active speaker, making their video more prominent.

If a Teams Room joins the meeting (a group of people in an office space attending a virtual meeting), its video feed enlarges automatically, bridging the gap between remote and in-room participants.

The new Teams adds an additional layer of personalisation by allowing users to customise their gallery view according to their preferences. You can choose the number of participants you wish to appear on your screen and even decide to remove your own video tile from view to prevent distraction.

How to Switch to the New Teams

Right now, to answer the two questions on everyone's lips: When will I be able to switch to the new Teams, and when will I no longer be able to use the old Teams? The answer to both is relatively straightforward, and I'll explain it the best I can.

If you're reading this on the day this blog was published (Tuesday, April 02 2024), you'll likely have already been automatically enrolled in the new Teams format. However, the rollout of new Teams on your device corresponds to the settings you or your organisation have configured for your Microsoft account.

There are two different types of Microsoft Teams rollouts to look out for:

  1. Microsoft-Managed Rollout: If you haven't customised any settings, Microsoft will continue rolling out the new Teams according to their schedule. Classic Teams won't be uninstalled immediately, as there will be a 14-day grace period during which users can transfer files, applications, or features to the new Teams.
  2. Admin-Managed Rollout: This type of rollout has been devised so that your assigned administrators can have more control over the rollout process.

The main benefit of an admin-managed rollout is that they can tailor the deployment of the new Teams based on their organisation's needs. However, the new Teams will still be installed as the default client, and the remainder of the classic Teams users will be forced to switch to the new Teams by mid-May.

  • Exemptions: Users exempt from this transition, i.e., people who have encountered issues moving across to new Teams or don't meet the necessary criteria to facilitate the upgrade, will still have access to the classic Teams iteration until July 01, 2024, at the earliest.

Final Thoughts

In summary, the transition from the original Teams to the new Teams will be gradual for some and more sudden for others. That being said, even the most ardent classic Teams user will have to face the music sooner or later by saying goodbye to the old and in with the new.

Overall, this change has a lot of upside in terms of the upgraded features and enhanced performance that will come alongside the installation of the new Teams. The ever-evolving nature of the tech landscape means we, as end users, need to be flexible and adaptable to change if we wish to keep up to date with the latest and greatest pieces of technology that tech conglomerates have to offer.

If you're having trouble understanding what this means for your business or personal use of Microsoft Teams, or if you have any other tech-related queries that need answering, reach out to our responsive and friendly team of experts today!