Since the start of the pandemic Microsoft has seen growing adoption of its Teams application - recently announcing that it now has nearly 250 million active monthly users. While many of us have relied on Teams to talk to colleagues and customers over the last 18 months, Microsoft is going to more closely integrate it within the Windows 11 operating system to make it more intuitive to use in work interactions and to attract a greater number of non-business users. Oh, and it’s also releasing a new ‘lighter version’ of the app – currently labelled Teams 2.0.
With the announcement that Skype for Business Online would be retiring (and has indeed, now been retired), Microsoft has focused on making Microsoft Teams services more robust. Now it’s going to replace the Skype ‘Meet Now’ button that’s on the taskbar in Windows 10 with a Teams Chat button in Windows 11. This will allow you to more easily and quickly connect with all your contacts wherever you are and on whatever device you and they are using.
Full capabilities of Microsoft Teams won’t be integrated in Windows 11 – at least not when it’s first released. Users will still have to download the application. But Microsoft says that even if the person you want to connect to hasn’t downloaded Teams you can still communicate using 2-way SMS. Once you have downloaded it, you will be able to launch the full Microsoft Teams app from Teams Chat or from the start menu.
What to expect
According to a Windows Insider blog, Teams Chat in Windows 11 will allow you to:
- See notifications when others contact you and be able to respond directly to text chats, accept or decline calls, and decide if you want to use video or audio only – all from the notification.
- Add contacts using email addresses or phone numbers – so there’s no need for codes to connect even if your contacts don’t use Teams.
- Automatically sync existing contacts from Skype or Outlook or those on your mobile device.
- Easily invite others to a group chat or video call whether or not they have installed Teams.
Teams 2.0 – Increased performance using half the memory
But what about the updated version of Teams? In a LinkedIn blog, Maor David-Pur, Microsoft Customer Success Leader, highlighted tweets posted by Microsoft Corporate VP for Teams engineering, Rish Tandon. Following the Windows 11 announcement Tandon tweeted that Teams would be ‘powered by Microsoft Edge Webview2’, ‘Teams 2.0 will consume half the memory of the same consumer accounts on Team 1.0’ and that the architecture would ‘support multiple accounts, work life scenarios, release predictability, and scale up for the client.’ David-Pur explained that this meant it would provide a better performance client experience, primarily because Microsoft Edge Webview2 uses Chromium as the rendering engine.
For those who complained about high memory usage over their desktops, the ‘lighter’ Teams 2.0 will be a welcome relief and it will also mean that Teams will perform much better on older devices. Support for multiple accounts will also hopefully make it easier to switch between home and work life.
Testing starts now!
Last month Microsoft started to roll out early versions of Windows 11 featuring Team Chat in the taskbar to some subscribers of the Windows Insider channel. Initially it said that testers could sign in, add contacts, and connect over one-to-one and group chats, while audio and video calling, screen sharing, and other capabilities would be added for testing over the coming weeks.
So, will Microsoft integrate Teams more fully into Windows 11 in the future? We look forward to finding out more and, with the release of Windows 11 happening later this year, we may not have too long to wait!
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