back to article Microsoft attempts to up its Teams game with new features while locked-down folk flock to rival Zoom... warts and all

Microsoft is rolling out improvements to its Teams collaboration software, while no doubt eyeing the success of Zoom in capturing millions of new video-conferencing users as much of the world endures lockdown. Five new features are coming to users shortly. The first is "background effects", the ability to customise your …

  1. Craig 2

    Ooooh... top new "feature" you can change the background! Plus what sounds like a kludgy hack to get it partially working with Skype. Honestly, if they stopped re-inventing stuff every 6 months they might stand a chance of having something stable and feature-rich. Sigh.

    1. low_resolution_foxxes

      Many have wondered if Microsoft are responsible for the PR spin of "Zoom is not secure!" squeals we've had this week.

      Well yes, but it's free, easy to use and most using it don't care. If Microsoft want to force a worse product onto the market, with "better security options" (read: harder to use) that's fine.

      The fact New York was the first state to ban them, is testamount to its local stock market interest (an unusual coincidence huh?).

      1. teknopaul

        You can enforce two-factor authentication == you can lock people out who know their password.

        (Speaking from experience, our lot locked me out with a 2fa snafu)

        The whole "business prevention department" got swiftly furloughed.

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        No, it wasn't Microsoft, but a whole bunch of security researchers.

        Read the articles about Zoom, and you'll discover that its attitudes to privacy and security are somewhat slack (heh), and its Mac client (and possibly the others?) is so close to malware in the way that it operates that you can barely tell the difference.

        I suspect that Hanlon's razor applies (for the most part) rather than deliberate evil, but, would you trust a company that churns out such sloppy code with your supposedly private conversations?

        Do it right, or don't bother. Fail fast, fail often is not a good development strategy when private data is involved. I'm not sure it's a great development strategy at all, in fact.

        (And, yes, I would apply the same exacting requirements to any and all of the videoconferencing systems out there.)

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          @AC - Please keep in mind

          that Zoom's main goal is slurping personal data so in this context I'd say their software is fit for purpose.

  2. Aoyagi Aichou


    Would be nice if it had this feature called "separate windows". Perhaps Microsoft has heard of it.

    1. Mr Humbug

      Funny you should mention that. The Office365 message centre has this:

      New Feature: Multi-Window Chat for Microsoft Teams

      MC207218, Stay Informed, Published date: 21 Mar 2020

      Updated March 23, 2020: The initial roll-out will be for Windows clients only. We will provide support for Mac and Linux clients in the coming weeks.

      Multi-Window Chat is a new Microsoft Teams feature which enables users to multitask more efficiently by popping out their chat conversations into separate windows.

      We'll begin roll-out to all customers starting in early April and expect to complete the roll-out by the end of May.

      1. Richard 12 Silver badge

        Been four years

        I'll believe it when I see it, as that was one of the features MS deliberately destroyed when they bought Skype.

        1. Griffo

          Re: Been four years

          Ive seen all these features on the internal Microsoft dogfood version for at least 6 months. So they were always coming, they've just been pushed ahead of schedule

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Windows?

      > Would be nice if it had this feature called "separate windows". Perhaps Microsoft has heard of it.

      There's a sort of work-around: use Edge and open one team per tab and save the main app for video etc. It's not great but better than nothing.

  3. tin 2

    Anyone think that the software engineers at MS sit there doing nothing all day?

    1. MatthewSt

      No, they just sit there rewriting stuff that was previously working into the latest and greatest* frameworks

      * Definitions may vary

      1. bombastic bob Silver badge
        Thumb Up

        " they just sit there rewriting stuff that was previously working" etc.

        It's the "New, Shiny" (read: less attractive/useful to MOST of us) wheel!!!

        I once did a parody one-panel comic showing a cave man working on a stone wheel (but not quite finished with it), and a geeky Bill G. type with the older windows logo on his polo shirt, with "Microsoft Wheel", which was octagonal instead of round.

        explanation: got it out to market FIRST, even though it was an INFERIOR DESIGN

        anyway, for your well-deserved snark, thumbs up!

        1. tin 2

          I wonder who's downvoting this stuff. Bill himself?

      2. ThePhantom

        Unfortunately I have to agree that Microsoft seems to keep reinventing the wheel rather than making incremental improvements based on customer feedback. They also have a very bad habit of requiring extensive IT support for much of their kit along with forcing you into the larger MS ecosystem.

        With Zoom, you just install the zoom software and are done with it. While holier than a sieve, it at least gets the job done.

        1. JcRabbit

          They don't care about customer feedback. I have a 20 year old email account that my ISP decided to migrate to back in 2014. I access it via POP3. The other day there was a snafu with MS POP3 email servers (which they REFUSED to admit was on their side and kept trying to pin on the client side until it was 'mysteriously' fixed a week later) and I was forced to login to my account via Web Mail for the very first time.

          So, lo and behold, there, sitting in a 'junk' folder I didn't even know existed, are a TON of really important emails I never received because they were marked as 'spam' and never delivered to my email client via POP3. The icing on the cake is that you cannot turn their 'Junk' filter off, despite me seeing HUNDREDS of requests from MS customers going back for many years for such a BASIC feature, all you can do is add domains to their 'safe senders' list.

          Since their spam filter is LITERALLY bonkers with no rhyme or reason to it and I cannot turn it off, I am now forced to periodically check my account via web mail to rescue important messages that should NEVER have been flagged as spam but were. I shudder to imagine how many I have missed over the years because of this 'feature'.

          While searching Google for a way to turn this 'feature' off, I read many heart breaking testimonials of users who had missed important job interviews, doctor appointments, invoices, etc, because of it. They BEGGED Microsoft for a way to turn it off, to let their email client filters handle the spam instead - page after page after page of users complaining and screaming.. and here we are in 2020 and you STILL can't turn it off.

          Are MS programmers on crack?

  4. John Sager

    Pub replacement

    A few of us have a regular pub session on a Friday & that has now moved to Teams, as one of our number gave us all logins, & I downloaded the Linux client. Since the chat is often techy we've used it to share docs & diagrams. Of course favourite tipples are consumed as well!

    1. MiguelC Silver badge

      Re: Pub replacement

      We are going to start doing that also... except the organizer didn't remember that he set the first meeting on Good Friday. I don't predict a great number of participants.

      1. Julz

        Re: Pub replacement

        Why not? Where are they going?

        1. Dr Scrum Master

          Re: Pub replacement

          To the park?

          1. MiguelC Silver badge

            Re: Pub replacement

            I'd rather have a video/audio/text chat with my friends instead of my colleagues (small intersection between groups, smaller intersection between interests) when not at work (hours), but to each his own

  5. Captain Hogwash

    Re: helps to see how people are reacting ... not just ... the current speaker.

    Same problem with Webex, which seems to be our company's conferencing software of choice (although we also have Teams & Skype for Business.)

    1. PeteNZ

      Re: helps to see how people are reacting ... not just ... the current speaker.

      You mean seeing up to 25 (5x5 layout) is not enough to get a feeling of the other's reactions? Webex has had this ability for some time now.

      (Yes, I work in the Cisco Collab engineering team)

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: helps to see how people are reacting ... not just ... the current speaker.

        I've never seen Webex working well enough to be able to work out what the hell was going on - including on some Cisco demonstrations where the entire time was filled with people saying "can't hear you, you're breaking up etc" and the instructor apologising for the quality!

  6. Zippy´s Sausage Factory

    Teams makes me sad

    I never actually thought it would be possible to make me miss Skype for Business. And yet, such a thing has happened.

    1. bombastic bob Silver badge

      Re: Teams makes me sad

      looks like slack has video conferencing. I have to wonder if it can be done on an android slab...? Or, for that matter, a LINUX desktop computer!

      current client got me started on slack - it's a nice way to keep in contact when you do most of your work remotely.

      But all we really need is the ability to do streaming video peer-to-peer, and a central server to manage it. I would think open source might have a nice opportunity there... then open up windows for each participant and 'tile' them as needed to view them all on screen.

      [seriously does NOT sound all that hard to me... except for the central server part, which would need sufficiently high bandwidth to mitigate firewalled peers]

      kickstart, anyone?

      "privateer" flag icon - heh

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Teams makes me sad

        Running Teams for a couple of charities to allow them a better degree of remote working. As well as meetings, it allows chats and file sharing, being able to separate out who has access to what. The pain, as described, is having to log out and back in to switch accounts as a user (it's actually easier switching accounts in the admin system). As said, the iOS/iPad apps do allow quick switching between accounts.

        I've gotten around the desktop issue by running one account in the app on my iMac, and another in my Windows VM. If another account comes along, I'll probably fire it up in my Linux VM. And, if it gets more complicated, I'll probably start cloning the VMs...

        I retired a couple years ago and have now found myself busier than ever - "retired" just means you don't get paid!

      2. Zippy´s Sausage Factory

        Re: Teams makes me sad

        We still have an alternative at work for video meetings. We won't be giving that up until Teams gets a lot better at video conferencing.

      3. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

        Re: Teams makes me sad

        "streaming video peer-to-peer,"

        Like Skype used to do before MS bought it and decided they need to to control it/the users?

      4. Cynic_999

        Re: Teams makes me sad

        I agree - and all encryption/decryption and key generation and sharing should be done by the endpoints. The central server acting as a simple router to overcome firewalls and NAT router limitations while not attempting to interpret content (except for initiate and end connection requests).

    2. keith_w

      Re: Teams makes me sad

      I feel the same way about both Teams and Slack. I liked that when someone had something to say to me, SfB popped up and drew my attention instead of having to have the app front and center so you could monitor it 100% of the time

      1. Tomato Krill

        Re: Teams makes me sad

        Yeah Teams very much does that....

  7. SecretSonOfHG

    All those billions spent in Skype

    How to spend 8.5 billion dollars on something only to throw it away in a matter of less than ten years. Just when they managed to get out a half decent Linux version (half because for some reason outgoing calls have sound issues that incoming calls do not have...)

    1. druck Silver badge

      Re: All those billions spent in Skype

      They spent about the same on Nokia and threw it away in a year, and before that with Aquantive which was supposed to help them become the next Google.

    2. Julz

      Re: All those billions spent in Skype

      Ah yes, but they are no longer rivals.

      1. rcxb Silver badge

        Re: All those billions spent in Skype

        I don't think AOL is a Microsoft rival anymore either... Didn't cost them billions to make that one happen.

        And other rivals just pop right up all the time, don't they?

    3. rcxb Silver badge

      Re: All those billions spent in Skype

      Ah but Skype for Business is Windows-only, no Linux. Typical.

  8. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Coronavirus Asteroid strike

    wipes out Microsoft Dinosaur.

  9. Charlie Clark Silver badge

    Zoom's USP

    Is that it is currently "free" to use even for large groups: Skype and Hangouts are limited to 10 users per telco for the free versions; you need a paid Microsoft acccount to start a Teams call. If Microsof wants market share it should either have a usable free version of Teams, or, allow more people on Skype calls.

    1. MatthewSt

      Re: Zoom's USP

      Ask and ye shall receive

      Skype - - Free (very recently without an account needed), 50 people per call (I think, can't find that number again now)

      Teams - - Free (since 2018) for up to 300 people per account

      1. Charlie Clark Silver badge

        Re: Zoom's USP

        Thanks for the links, it looks like the Teams "for free" is now the same as the free Skype conference call.

  10. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Used both

    Used teams and zoom, and the lag in zoom has been awful, the interface sucks on the consumer one (though to be fair i'm comparing the fat teams client).

    Teams was bumpy in the first few days of the lockdown, but is working brilliantly for us - your mileage may vary, however.

    I've even passed an executive order (BOFH) that the minions can use it for personal stuff out of hours.

    1. Dan 55 Silver badge

      Re: Used both

      Well you've convinced me, Anonymous poster who may or may not be a MS PR person.

    2. MiguelC Silver badge

      Re: Used both

      I don't have a bad experience with Zoom, I use it mainly for its higher video quality, but Teams integrates with all our environment (mostly O365) so it's more practical for everything else.

    3. Captain Scarlet

      Re: Used both

      Out of Skype for Business, Teams, Zoom and Blue Jeans they all have niggles which makes them all annoying.

      Just use what works for you, for most people Skype for Business is to difficult to use (**Shrugs Shoulders**). Most issues I find are users not expecting software to be helpful, like if you tell one to output audio on laptop speakers it will select the laptop microphone as well.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Used both

        Setting up Teams and used Skype to contact a new user to answer a few questions. They had a poor internet connection (not yet on fibre) and Skype was unusable, sound and picture breaking up. Switched to phone to finish the session and then tried to connect with their new Teams set-up - sound and vision rock solid. OK, it was a weekend and Teams bandwidth probably less pressured, but the improvement was from totally unusable to "perfect".

        Teams is available free for registered charities and non-profits - one licence I got last month now reads trial expiry 20th June 2853 - I don't think I'll bother writing down renewal instructions.

        Using Zoom as well for another organisation - good for conferencing and screen sharing, as was GoToMeeting. Teams has some way to go to catch up with those - but it is streets ahead as a single install in these lockdown times.

        1. 0laf Silver badge

          Re: Used both

          Teams has actually worked really well for us in the current crisis but I can see why consumers would prefer Zoom.

          Where Teams falls down is dealing with the ad hock communications with members of the public. They don't want to use Teams, they want something simple that works with their family and friends too. That has meant WhatsApp until the recent Zoom outbreak. But neither Zoom nor WhatApp sit very well with DP law.

          1. Anonymous Coward

            Re: Used both

            "They don't want to use Teams, they want something simple that works with their family and friends too."

            Fuck me, have you never heard of a telephone?

            1. Cynic_999

              Re: Used both


              Fuck me, have you never heard of a telephone?


              You mean that device where I am paying quite a high per minute cost for anything non-local, and on which it is difficult to communicate with more than one person at the same time? The huge benefit of Internet based communication is that if you have a high or unlimited data cap you can communicate for as long as to like to anyone in the World at no additional cost. Even if data is expensive (such as using a cellular phone), a voice call via the Internet is usually cheaper than an equivalent call directly over the cellular system.

      2. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

        Re: Used both

        "Just use what works for you, "

        Excellent advice. Except for when what works for you isn't what works for the people you want to chat with :-)

        Sometimes, you don't get a choice. I've forgotten what it was called now, but I used to used an integrated chat system many years ago that did AOLs AIM, ICQ and various other text chat systems in a single integrated client. You still needed accounts on all them, but the chat window stayed consistent and your contacts availability was in a single list.

        1. Philip Lewis

          Re: Used both

          This one probably

  11. A Non e-mouse Silver badge

    Teams video conference view

    Since we rolled out Teams across our organisation we've inundated with requests for Zoom so people can see everyone in a meeting.

    We spoke to our Microsoft account team and it was hinted that Microsoft just don't have the compute power to handle more video streams on screen at once at the minute.

    1. Dan 55 Silver badge

      Re: Teams video conference view

      Perhaps they should look at the original Skype they acquired which used some witchcraft called P2P instead of having to route everything to Redmond via Utah.

      1. MatthewSt

        Re: Teams video conference view

        Was less witchcraft, and more "whoever started the call was responsible for the relaying". So you'd need to organise it so that that person had the fastest computer / bandwidth

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Teams video conference view

        I remember original Skype and my laptop fan going to full speed, hot air blasting out, and having to plug into mains quickly before the battery died. I wonder what would happen with a modern phone? Throttling, or drop because too hot to hold.

        1. Dan 55 Silver badge

          Re: Teams video conference view

          Presumably in a P2P model, phones would have to not be part of the P2P network until there's a call set up and would leave it again when the call is over.

      3. Philip Lewis

        Re: Teams video conference view

        There seems to be an MS shill here with a downvote button. Probably that guy whose name I have forgotten that was here constantly in the old days boosting MS..

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Teams video conference view

      This is exactly (one reason) why Zoom uses sub-standard encryption on their client, crappy encryption is faster:

      1. Cynic_999

        Re: Teams video conference view

        The main reason why real-time video must use sub-optimum encryption is because it must be able to handle missed or corrupt packets (no time to re-try). Thus each packet must be capable of being decrypted stand-alone, and rolling encryption techniques cannot be used.

  12. Flak

    More than four concurrent videos

    Yes, please.

    I don't need a choice of backgrounds or sounds.

    Teams has come a long way in the last 18 months and we use it daily, often several times, without any issues.

    1. malfeasance

      Re: More than four concurrent videos

      I regard Teams as primarily a business tool; my line in the sand would be: If you have > 4 people in a meeting, it's not a meeting anymore; it's just a hot-air balloon being inflated.

      Sure; I get that stuff is nuanced, but for most business use cases, Teams will work fine (as will any of the other tools).

      I've worked remotely for nigh on 20 years, and after the novelty of it all; it's all about asynchronous communications; it's all about being precise in your communications (bearing in mind all the the filler words that english has and how useless they are, relatively speaking - look I've used a bunch in typing this comment).

      It's nice to have a choice isn't it?

      1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

        Re: More than four concurrent videos

        "it's all about asynchronous communications;"

        Yes, this! So many of my previously office-bound colleagues are still stuck in the "I need to talk to people face-to-face, now" mode. Some are starting to realise, finally, that those us who have been remote workers for many years feel so out of touch at times as more and more systems and services have gone on-line such that we have less and less human contact on a day to day basis.

        I've actually had MORE contact than normal with colleagues since they were all sent home. It's quite refreshing and less lonely. I wonder how many will remember we remote workers exist when this is all over?

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: More than four concurrent videos

      There is a good reason for backgrounds and it has been noted by the sociologists. People working from home may not want colleagues to see them working out of a broom cupboard or bedroom while the colleagues sit with the French windows behind them giving onto the terrace and the kids on their ponies.

      1. Evil_Goblin

        Re: More than four concurrent videos

        What sort of gauche nouveau riche allows their children to ride ponies on the terrace?

        Pony club is strictly paddock darling, and preferably someone else's to provide some peace and quiet away from the entitled heirs and heiresses...

      2. Macha Morrigan

        Re: More than four concurrent videos

        See people working out of a broom closet?

        My goodness, have you never heard of green screens and OBS Studio?

        What's wrong with working from the bridge of the Enterprise?

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: More than four concurrent videos

      200 million new Zoom users disagree about how big a deal being limited to 4 videos is. Regardless of the bizarrely skewed views of some commenters, there is widespread frustration and a limited market for the current version of Microsoft Quartets.

  13. Hubert Cumberdale Silver badge

    Please don't kill Skype

    Even though MS have made Skype gradually shitter, it's still better than being forced into the mess of Teams. It takes ages to load on my system and is just a confusing mess of bollocks. Whatever happened to software doing one thing and doing it well?

    1. Captain Scarlet

      Re: Please don't kill Skype

      Teams I find needs a machine with at least 6GB and yes I agree especially the way people made out Lotus Notes was the crappiest thing in the entire world **Shrugs Shoulders**

    2. low_resolution_foxxes

      Re: Please don't kill Skype

      Our IT team played with some chat/call settings and it became far more bearable.

      I have to say, two months in, I don't have a fecking clue how the actual team/group task discussions are meant to work.

    3. dajames

      Re: Please don't kill Skype

      ... MS have made Skype gradually shitter ...


      Shitter (noun) One who shits.

      Shittier (adjective) That which is more shitty.

      1. Hubert Cumberdale Silver badge

        Re: Please don't kill Skype

        A fair point, but I'm calling it a variant adjective. Personally, I don't feel like "shittier" fits, because it makes me think of "more covered in shit", and to me that implies that MS are gradually smearing it with increasing amounts of faeces. Big > bigger > biggest; shit > shitter > shittest; pedantic > pedanticker > pedantickerereriest. I reject your accepted version of the language and substitute my own.

    4. IceC0ld

      Re: Please don't kill Skype

      Whatever happened to software doing one thing and doing it well?

      WOW, who are you, and what planet are you from :oP ;o)

    5. tin 2

      Re: Please don't kill Skype

      "confusing mess of bollocks" is the most precise description of teams I've seen for a good long while.

      While I don't doubt correctly set up teams might work once you're in call, figuring out the day to day running of communicating via teams is something I still don't understand.

      The number of magically resurrected otherwise long-dead chats when people think they're getting in touch with you afresh is astonishing. Kind of like the old Lync leave-a-call-but-don't-really-leave-it-actually thing.

      It really is quite incredible. MS must have mountains of people working on it, and it's still a dogs dinner.

    6. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Please don't kill Skype

      "Whatever happened to software doing one thing and doing it well?"

      The 80s called ... they want you back to patch some code ;)

  14. Robert Grant

    Teams data is encrypted in transit and at rest.

    So is Zoom's. It's just not encrypted end to end in Zoom. I believe it's also not in Teams, but no-one seems to mind that.

    1. This post has been deleted by its author

    2. Phil NZ

      Zoom said they used end to end encryption, Microsoft didn’t (because how do you do end to end in a 100+ person meeting without killing user experience??)

      That’s why it’s an issue. Don’t mislead about a fundamental feature. If Microsoft had made this claim about Teams we would be roasting them right now.

      1. Cynic_999


        (because how do you do end to end in a 100+ person meeting without killing user experience??)


        By having a different key for each participant which is securely exchanged with all other participants once per session up front. Holding 100 keys in a list and choosing the correct one to apply to a data stream is trivial and user experience is unchanged.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Those 100 keys... which one do you encrypt your video with before sending a single copy to the server for forwarding to everyone?

          Unless you are suggesting per-user encryption, with every single participants decryption keys automatically replicated to any participants or whoever else the server wants the keys given to? That would likely be approximately as secure as a traditional double ROT13 cipher, just with fewer options for optimising performance.

        2. Robert Grant

          So you want every person in an n-person chat to send and receive n-1 video streams?

      2. Robert Grant

        Sure, fair enough. But I'm reading articles about how Zoom is insecure compared to its peers, not about how Zoom shouldn't have claimed something impossible.

  15. batfink

    Neither one thing nor t'other

    I'm with Hubert - Teams is a mess. Why does the Chat window fill up with shit you don't care about, like who has come and gone from finished meetings? Why, when you click on a Teams meeting link from Outlook, does it take you to a web page that then asks you whether you want to launch Teams, instead of, I don't know, launching Teams maybe?

    Of course these may be local settings, adjustable by our internal IT crowd I suppose.

    TBF it does seem to be better than BlueJeans.

    1. baud

      Re: Neither one thing nor t'other

      Perhaps it depends on the outlook version, but when I open a meeting in outlook, I have a Join Teams Meeting button in the ribbon, at least it saves me the trouble of going trough the web page (yeah, the implementation of that link is stupid)

    2. Evil_Goblin

      Re: Neither one thing nor t'other

      Chat window does that because it is useful for recurring meetings that use the same "instance" you can see when new team members join, temporary presenters leave etc. Agree could be handled better though.

      Browsery bit will invariably be due to bad set up as you suggest, or using on prem Exchange, rather than an O365 cloudy one, which integrates and plays a lot more nicely.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Neither one thing nor t'other

        > Chat window does that because it is useful for recurring meetings that use the same "instance" you can see when new team members join, temporary presenters leave etc. Agree could be handled better though.

        That caught me out early days using Teams: I wanted to see who was in a meeting so scrolled to the top expecting it to be for the meeting I was in and was surprised to see a colleague who had left the company. Good thing he hadn't died of coronavirus otherwise I can see frivolous lawsuits galore as people claim to be emotionally traumatised by the app.

  16. Muskiier

    Teams is great but way more costly, with a big roadblock for hybrid Office 365 shops

    We have a hybrid Office 365 environment, a select few of our most mobile users are on O365 while the majority are on-premise Exchange and Office. We tried to roll out the free Teams version for the on-premise group but cannot use corporate email addresses without subscribing all at significant cost, or using personal addresses in-office - which has too many complications to list. The COVID-19 momentum to Zoom has taken all of us to that platform. Zoom is way less costly, users love it and it's not an admin burden. Yes, Teams is great but with no on-ramp for us that is not exorbitant (since we are hybrid) we cannot make it work. We have tried for a couple of years to get Microsoft's attention on this but have been told that's just the way it is. Frustrating that we are a mostly-Microsoft shop and Office 365 subscribers. If we were not, we'd likely all be on Teams free right now. If anyone has a work-around we'd love to hear about it!

    1. Adam JC

      That's interesting.. I was under the impression so long as SOMEONE in your organisation had a license, then you're fine unless you want the PSTN dial-in features or premium shenanigans. I also thought Teams was being made free for the next 90 days? (Or perhaps indefinitely, I may be wrong).

      1. Muskiier

        One would think, but not if you want to use your Office 365 domain emails, And we've tried repeatedly. You have to get each unsubscribed person to use their personal email to sign up, which might be OK in a small environment but gets complicated quickly. We heard about the free offering, but information on it is confusing and doesn't appear to resolve our problem.

        1. Trixr

          Not even the Business Essentials offering? - it's only $USD60 per user per year. It doesn't include Office Proplus for home office installs. E1, which does include Proplus, is $96 per user pa.

          Both of them include the basic Azure AD licence, so you can do AD sync.

  17. reubs007

    MS to buy Zoom?

    I can't wait for MS to buy Zoom and make it tons better just like it did with Skype. Oh hang on...

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: MS to buy Zoom?

      MS has the Sadim touch. Gold turns to shit.

  18. Nick Ryan Silver badge

    Control of file management in teams...

    Control of file management in teams... where is it? It's been asked for as a feature for years rather than crappy background substitution. The usual Microsoft rep response is to "go do one, we know best and we want your staff to share your corporate documents in an uncontrolled way".

    With the slightly paranoid data management and policy hat on... it is not remotely acceptable to not be able to lock down the teams client to prevent the creation of online data silos. Allowing the instant distribution, sharing and duplication of files on external servers hosted in unknown regimes (possibly the US, therefore zero data protection) is not remotely acceptable in any passably regulated industry or any organisation that deals with sensitive personal data. This is aside from other critical data management tasks such as the discovery and backing up of data.... also pretty much impossible with Teams.

  19. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    OT: Teams users can't create teams (have to apply to your hospital's IT support to do it for you).

    Can't add users as contacts either.

    Do they really think this is a data security weak point? Central government sent lists of vulnerable people to the supermarkets to help prioritise deliveries, but hospital staff are not supposed to do conference calls with local authority staff?

    1. Trixr


      Yeah, we don't let any old Tom Dick and Harry create their own teams either - because if it's open slather, you get a whole bunch of crappy little teams people use for 2 days, then abandon. Then we need to spend significant time/expense tracking the owners down and ask them if they still want their crappy data.

      And of course they can add random people as members, and I can tell you that people get pretty shitty when they start getting pinged with random crap.

      Or, if you're wanting to allow "agility" in more open environments, fine, you want nice short expiry times, like 3 months. The owner gets a nag to see if they're still using it. If no reply, then off it goes.

      A hybrid approach is creating a group of people who can set up teams ad-hoc, e.g. managers.

      As for adding externals as guests, how good are your controls re information segregation? Do you know how many have identities? Many 100s of thousands. What happens when some numpty decides to "share" highly private patient information with some inspector at the MOT? If you're operating in a regulatory environment, you need to be very careful about what you're able to share and with whom. It's not your family shopping list or gaming mates' bitching channel.

      And guess what, not many public sector enterprises, have the funding to do proper analysis and configuration of this stuff. Easiest just to lock it all down.

      It should be locked down by default first, the analysis done, governance and controls in place, THEN you can allow info sharing with the appropriate constraints. If you want to just do chat, fine, but someone has to set up the policies and ensure stuff can't leak easily. Therefore $$$. Esp when you use a 3rd party tool like Avepoint to help with the governance part - that costs as well.

      1. Cheshire Cat


        "Yeah, we don't let any old Tom Dick and Harry create their own teams either - because if it's open slather, you get a whole bunch of crappy little teams people use for 2 days, then abandon. Then we need to spend significant time/expense tracking the owners down and ask them if they still want their crappy data."

        Yes, THIS. Teams is designed to allow every Tom, Dick and Harriet to create a new group and the potential chaos for the admins is a nightmare. Not to mention that since you cannot add people to a team using a group, you end up with dozens of things to update when on/offboarding employees.

  20. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Apples to Oranges?

    Zoom is a standalone Video Conferencing application riding the back of AWS & Azure. Teams is a front-end meant to compete with Slack that integrates Sharepoint, some Exchange and Skype. It will take years for Teams to catch up but most people will use it in the long run when the Zoom bill comes due after the pandemic. Trying to make Zoom sticky by giving it away for free isn't going to work here with all of the security risks. When kids Zoom classes are getting interrupted with Porn and Racists is not a way to win the war.

    1. Dan 55 Silver badge

      Re: Apples to Oranges?

      Not sure what your point is, MS are half-heartedly climbing on the free bandwagon too.

      To avoid racist porn, don't give away meeting room credentials (the same problem can happen with dial-in meetings in Teams).

  21. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Microsoft calls this

    a "new experience for launching instant channel meetings"... Each time I realize real, grown-up human beings can come up with this BS I can't stop myself from thinking of bad, unwanted side effects of human reproduction.

    1. Phil NZ

      Re: Microsoft calls this

      Haha yes, nice name for what everyone else would describe as “moved a button to make it a bit more obvious how to start an instant meeting”.

      1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

        Re: Microsoft calls this

        I am SOOOOO pleased that software GUI designers are not allowed anywhere near the design choices for inside motor vehicles, aircraft etc. We REALLY DON'T need a new design paradigm every time a new version comes out!!

  22. Piro Silver badge

    Teams is a flaming pile of

    There are a lot of things wrong with Teams, but could we at least start with some basics?

    Many video feeds at once. Not just 4. Even Skype could do more than that. It looks ridiculous on a huge monitor to have 4 feeds.

    Pop-out chat windows. This is a big one for me. I miss messages all the time in Teams because they don't generate new pop-up windows. I never missed messages in Skype.

    Status indicators in the listbox result when you search for people, not just on the person's page.

    Search arbitrary fields in AD in the search box like Skype does. I could search for a department name in Skype's search field, and it would return results. Teams does not do this. It is a worse tool for collaborative communication.

    Reply with message when people call, like Skype, instead of just accept or deny.

    Slim that bloated pile down.. seriously, it consumes and consumes. While they're at at, they should make the controls and window standard. I hate the fact every application these days needs to have its own controls and window chrome. I have a lot more complaints too, but it's late, and I'm tired.

    1. Trixr

      Re: Teams is a flaming pile of

      All agreed. I actually like Teams better than Skype slightly, because I never liked Skype that much, but all those complaints you have are the same as mine.

      Other than the window chrome being in line with the more "modern" apps (whatever you call them), but I wish they'd settle down on that front as well

      1. Piro Silver badge

        Re: Teams is a flaming pile of

        I'm not the biggest fan of Skype, either, which is why it's frustrating that Microsoft have put out a product that makes some features of Skype look good.

        Oh, and I should be able to dial external, normal phone numbers from the search bar. Skype had that function too.

        I do believe that one day Teams will be half-decent. Just in time for Microsoft to replace it again with something half-baked.

    2. Philip Lewis

      Re: Teams is a flaming pile of

      "Slim that bloated pile down.. seriously, it consumes and consumes."

      Frameworks, whatever their current polished turd is called are a great idea for solving a great many problems, as long as resources are infinite. It's the Microsoft way after all.

  23. Simon Beckett

    Taking the long view...

    I suspect when we all come out of lockdown Teams might end up being the eventual winner here, Zoom is an easy fix as a knee jerk reaction. As people have said, it's USP is that it's easy to sign up for free, but will eventually (if it hasn't already) attract suspicion about what they're doing with the data. Judging by how will they are to give all their data away to Google/Facebook/Twitter et al home users don't appear to be that bothered but anything close to the medium business or enterprise level (which is where Microsoft's heart really is) will (or should) be a lot more cautious.

    <full disclosure - yes we are a MS Partner, but no I'm not a MS Patsy>

  24. Wemb

    User configured backdrops? Woot.

    I mean, that's obviously a game-changer - so much more useful than, say being able to pick what bloody font size it uses - I mean, why bother accommodating people with poor eyesight? Font size of point 7 is good for everyone surely?

    Any enquiry about accessibility is just met with zoom in in your browser or 'Hey! You can vote for that feature'.

    1. Nick Ryan Silver badge

      Re: User configured backdrops? Woot.

      By way of text the Microsoft "standard" is now a tiny, really narrow pitch font rendered in a mid grey on a white background. Basically, nearly fucking unreadable.

  25. Annihilator


    “ here is no reference in the announcement to using your own background images though one user reckons they have worked it out by putting a custom image in a special uploads folder hidden in AppData.”

    Bless. Takes me back to the days of playing with logo.sys

  26. IHateWearingATie

    Multiple accounts!

    "Next up is the common requirement to log into multiple accounts, trivial with Slack. "

    I need this. As with most Microsoft things, it doesn't quite work right when you are working on a laptop linked via active directory linked to my employer, but trying to access mail, MS Teams etc via a log in that my client has given me. This has never quite worked for web access (weird behaviour when clicking links etc) and now the same thing is happening in Teams, where even if I create a meeting request in my client account, behind the scenes MS Teams thinks that it is linked to my employer's AD account.


    (My employer uses Slack rather than Teams - first time I opened it was when I started working with my current client!)

  27. Cheshire Cat

    But I still prefer Zoom...

    While I wouldn't use zoom for anything highly confidential at government level, I think it's fine for other things, provided you configure it correctly (waiting room, password, etc). I am using it for our Scout group meetings with much success.

    Teams cannot do the tiled multi-person view of up to 25 users like Zoom can; the teams client for Linux and phones is cut-down and a resource hog; and Teams doesnt support anonymous attendees. Zoom is just much, much easier to get someone into a meeting if they're not already part of your company. Also, administration of Teams is a nightmare - tracking down uploaded files, new groups proliferating uncontrolled, and inability to use existing groups to define membership.

  28. isr_81

    All this and they can't even get localised (i.e. non-american) date/time format!

  29. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    When Micro$loth bought Skype

    Skype was the best game in town and the word itself was synonymous with video calling. FaceTime was trivial and an Apple universe thing. Hangouts and WhatsApp didn't even exist. Telcos were in the position to absolutely own the market globally, and now they are reduced to selling data to users so they can use OTT options.

    Big corporations are toxic. They can turn great into trash in no time flat. I've worked in some of these soul destroying environments, and those left who work in them are indeed soulless. Dead eyed zombies mouthing corporate platitudes.

    After MS got through with Skype, it was awful and got successively worse with each iteration. Like almost every acquisition ever made by MS, it was a financial disaster where they took something great and turned it to shit.

    Skype should be a lesson in how to take the market leading product in a growing market segment and turning it into crap through toxic corporatism. The lack of conference calling in Skype makes it irrelevant for the vast majority of people.

    Not that I work any more, but how many spin off conferencing products for corporate does MS need to fail with before they realise they are hopeless? Answer: Pick an integer and increment it.

  30. briesmith

    Zooming not Easy

    The difficulty Zoom users have is that their settings aren't persistent and for some reason known only to Zoom, questions have to be answered before you can join a session. I've absolutely no idea why the Zoomies consider this a "good thing".

    It's also clear that they have no idea what baseline IT facility amongst the general public is. To save them doing a lot of research, I will tell them.

    It is zero, absolutely no facility, no confidence, no adaptability whatsoever. And no interest in ever acquiring any. The least question dismisseth them.

    What should the workflow be? Submit correct credentials via a link? OK, you're in. No further fandango.

    Regardless of its other flaws, MS Teams manages this quite well. Accept an invite and there you are, live and working.

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