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Microsoft yesterday announced that it is releasing a faster version of its Teams communication app for Windows to commercial clients in a preview program. According to Microsoft, this new version will be twice as fast as its predecessor and will use only half the memory. The company promises that this new version will be available to all customers later this year, along with new versions of Teams for Mac and the web.
Teams have become a vital tool for companies since their debut in 2017, as it enables workers to stay connected through video calls and text chats, particularly during the COVID pandemic. According to Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella, more than 280 million people use Teams every month, despite many workers returning to the office.
Microsoft experienced some performance issues with Teams in 2020, which it resolved. In 2021, the company started building a second generation of software to improve its performance further, according to Jeff Teper, president of collaborative apps and platforms at Microsoft.
Reports of a new version of Teams had been circulating earlier this year, and Teper admitted that this caused “a lot of agitation.” However, he did not want Microsoft to announce the update until the program had achieved its internal goal of being twice as fast as the previous version while using half the memory.
In addition to the performance improvements, the new version of Teams includes enhancements designed to simplify the app, building on the more than 400 feature updates Microsoft delivered last year. Microsoft faces competition from Cisco, Google, Salesforce-owned Slack, and Zoom.
To make Teams easier to use, Microsoft is hiding several options behind a plus sign that people can click on, instead of displaying a ribbon of functions for a chat. This concept is similar to other messaging applications, such as Slack. Additionally, Teams video calls will show every participant on screen in a box of the same size, rather than giving more space to participants with their cameras on.
Microsoft is also making it easier for people who belong to multiple organizations to stay on top of what’s going on. Instead of logging in and out of different accounts, users can now stay signed in across them all, receiving notifications no matter which one they are currently using.
Corporate workers who get access to the new version of Teams will see a switch at the top of the application window that will enable them to go back to what Microsoft is calling the classic version, Teper wrote in a blog post.