back to article Fancy trying to explain Microsoft Teams to your parents? They may ask about the new Personal version

Readers who find themselves performing tech support for friends and family have a new challenge: Microsoft has created a free version of its Teams collaboration tool for home use. Formally known as “Personal features in Teams”, the new offering is a free app for Windows, ioS, and Android, or runs in any browser. The app …

  1. Shadow Systems

    They don't use Microsoft...

    Thank the gods.

    They're firmly in the Apple camp & thus I no longer have to do tech support for their issues. Even better is that they don't have webcams & microphones on their laptops, StepDad permanently disables them the moment he buys a "new" (refurb) machine, so if they ever decide to do a video call, it'll have to be on their Iphones. Which, thankfully, also won't get the taint of MS infecting them any time soon.


    1. acousticm

      Re: They don't use Microsoft...

      Teams is available for the iPhone as well. I've already had the pleasure of having to install Teams on devices because teams was a requirement to participate in Some-Mandatory-Online-Activity.

      Really, I've already way to many video conference tools on my iPhone, having to have Teams(business) as well as Teams(Personal) would be really frustrating

    2. Potemkine! Silver badge

      Re: They don't use Microsoft...

      That's the advantage to be under an autocratic regime, you haven't any worries about making choices. You only have to follow the Master's voice and everything is OK.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: They don't use Microsoft...

        > That's the advantage to be under an autocratic regime...

        Which one? Apple or Microsoft?

  2. bofh1961

    They're dead and even Teams won't reach them...

    If he was still with us my dad would be 85 now and wouldn't need any help to use his laptop.

    1. C-Clef

      Re: They're dead and even Teams won't reach them...


      If my father were still around he'd be 111.

      Thinking about it, he never did use a computer whilst alive.

      Lucky devil.

    2. Clunking Fist

      Re: They're dead and even Teams won't reach them...

      My dad would be 85, too. He also, would not need help. Because he didn't believe in computers and was quite proud of the fact that he lived without them in the house. One day when I was feeling mean, I told him his internet-connected PVR was a computer, as was mum's smartphone.

  3. Mishak Silver badge

    I guess it may work here...

    It's awful to use for business, though it does now nearly have all the useful features* that things like WebEx had over ten years ago.

    I currently use a few different platforms, and I would rate the main ones I use:

    1) Zoom

    2) WebEx

    3) Teams

    * I really do not count being able to put "the team" in the seats of a virtual lecture room as a useful feature (but then, I'm not in sales and marketing).

    1. Sgt_Oddball

      Re: I guess it may work here...

      Whilst webex did indeed have these things years ago it was never exactly what you'd call a pleasant experience.

      Audio always suffered to the point where we had to use the phone numbers to ensure at least a stable line rather than the choppy/flaky connections that it'd do in our office.

      For the most part teams whilst having other irritating quirks at least seems much more stable on the audio front and handles video rates better when connections get congested.

      1. Potemkine! Silver badge

        Re: I guess it may work here...

        I've got the totally opposite experience with Teams and Webex.

        Teams also use a lot of bandwidth, a problem not present with Webex.

        When we do a meeting/conference with 50+ people, there's never a problem with Webex. With Teams it's often a hassle.

        I also hate in Teams the inability to delete messages, you can just 'mask' them. It gives the feeling to be constantly tracked and under surveillance.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: I guess it may work here...

      Zoom, great one that.

    3. mickaroo

      Re: I guess it may work here...

      1) Zoom: Disables the microphone on my laptop; I have no idea why. Using Zoom is an exercise in frustration.

      2) Webex: I can run it through a browser, but the Webex client crashes Windows with 100% regularity.

      3) Teams: Mostly works...

    4. batfink

      Re: I guess it may work here...

      Hmm. You seem to have rated Teams approximately 97 places higher than I would have.

    5. Intractable Potsherd Silver badge

      Re: I guess it may work here...

      Of the multiplicity of video communication programs I've unwillingly been fixed to come to terms with over the last year, Teams is my least favourite. I don't like the interface, and, it has given me far more problems than any of the others - poor video and audio (one one horribly notable occasion, I managed to be fully involved in a 90-minute session for around 20 minutes). Zoom and WhatsApp both worked much better. YMMV, of course.

  4. Marki Mark

    How big a family

    Group calls can involve 300 people

    Not sure I have enough family for a 300 person group call...

    1. WolfFan Silver badge

      Re: How big a family

      You’re obviously not Irish. Grandad #1 was one of 11 that lived, dad was one of 12. Grandad #2 was one of 10 that lived, mom was one of 7. I have a _lot_ of cousins. Thanks to the British military and the British Imperial civil service, we are all over the bloody world, from the frozen wasteland that is Canada (watch out for the Twin Terrors of the North: polar bears and the dreaded Canadian Arctic Attack Penguin) to desert wasteland that is Australia (drop bears, mate. And Really Big crocs.) to southern and eastern Africa (lions, wild dogs, hyenas, politicians even worse than those in Britain) to India (tigers. Annoying neighbors.) About the only way to get everyone together would be with something like this.

  5. Julian 8

    Just wait for all the calls from the relatives that say "why is my machine running so slow ?"

    That my dear family, is Teams in action

    1. HWwiz


      Yes that one of the main issues on our deployments.

      Teams using 700 to 900mb of RAM. Why so much ?.

    2. Roland6 Silver badge

      They are probably runnng a consumer grade system which can only take a maximum of 4GB RAM and uses a CPU with a PassMark CPU Mark below 2000...

  6. Phil O'Sophical Silver badge

    Floating emojis appear to be enabled everywhere.

    Microsoft products would likely be a lot better if the developers made sure the basics worked first, before wasting time on adding silly features like that.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Agreed. I turn off reaction notifications that fight for your attention.

      During screen share sessions, I see a lot of users with a high number of unread notifications count. I guess some people are fed up with the reactions from click happy social media fans.

  7. Roland6 Silver badge

    Teams Personal wholly separate toTeams (Business)?

    I assume that like Skype; Teams Personal, uses a totally different delivery architecture to Teams (Business) and thus the two can't communicate...

    If MS have managed to make the two have the same delivery architecture, I expect they use different clients - unlike Zoom where you can have multiple user accounts and available functionality is thus determined by the account being used.

    1. Gavin Chester

      Re: Teams Personal wholly separate toTeams (Business)?

      Much to my amazement too it can all be done in the one app, assuming your organisation security policies allow it, and you want to mix work and home on the same device. (OK on a phone you always carry, but maybe not on the work/home laptop)

  8. Will Godfrey Silver badge

    Late to the party?

    I think Zoom has pretty much gobbled up the market for personal users.

    1. Roland6 Silver badge

      Re: Late to the party?

      That's MS's way (being late to the party). If MS include Teams Personal in their basic offering and bundle it with the next W10 feature update, I would not be surprised if many people will switch just because its Microsoft and they think it will be better integrated into Office 365...

      1. Terry 6 Silver badge

        Re: Late to the party?

        Microsoft being "late to the party" is pretty much a given. They haven't done all that well in catching up in most other areas, which is why no one much uses/d their browser or search engine or phone.

        And in the case of Zoom it's not just a matter of habit. There's an awful lot of inertia too. Everyone relies on Zoom, and has pretty much got used to it. The government uses Zoom, and my wife's Brownie group does too. And everyone in between.

        Who's going to say "Let's rearrange our gathering to be on Teams" to people who've spent a year getting used to Zoom. And what would the response be if they did? Particularly now with the end of lockdown in sight and people actually able to meet face to face. And all the extra bells and whistles won't help, because to get into a non-techie mass market it's ease and simplicity of use that matters most. Stuff that "just works" with no clever choices that stop the actual purpose of the software from happening.

  9. Charlie Clark Silver badge


    WhatsApp only allows eight person vid chats.

    Much as I dislike Facebook, I think this restriction is based upon the underlying Signal implementation which, as it uses end-to-end encryption, can't use a server to offload multicasting. However, as it's not always clear when WhatsApp uses e2e, I could very easily be wrong.

    Otherwise it's nice to see some competition here though I'm sure it's only a matter of time before someone buys Zoom. Microsoft seems to be shadowing Google over the size of group calls. I've always found Hangouts to be rock solid on the phone and a big of a hog on the desktop. Teams, at least for MacOS, seems to be the worst of all worlds, but connections are generally stable.

  10. PaulusTheGrey

    House of Technophobes

    But I *am* the parent!

  11. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I'm a 'parent'....

    I suppose I should have one of my (adult) children explain Teams to me -- my daughter uses it extensively for work but I've never found it very much use. I think like a lot of Microsoft products its usefulness depends on it integrating with other Microsoft products (most notably Office). If you don't spend your life in Office then its just, well, noise.

    Now about this 'old person challenged by technology' trope. Time has moved on and today's old people tend to include the people who are responsible for the explosion of computing and communications that we now take for granted. We're actually a rather unique bunch because unlike those who came before who couldn't separate the systems from mathematics and those that came after who just accept any old marketing junk as gospel we're the crew that climbed the ladder step by step from the earliest descrete machines to today's supercomputer on a chip. Not everyone's an enthusiast anxious to incorporate 'the latest' into their lives (especially as a lot of 'the latest' is bug ridden crap). This doesn't mean we don't understand technology but rather that we do understand it rather too well.

    Just sayin'

    1. Will Godfrey Silver badge
      Thumb Up

      Re: I'm a 'parent'....

      Nail -> Hammer.

  12. luminous

    So you just get to see torsos and the head and lower half of the body are behind furniture.... sorry what?

  13. Potemkine! Silver badge

    For the video meeting with the family, I stick with Signal, thank you.

  14. tyne

    In the corporate hell hole I call work.. We use Skype for Business (aka Lync) as our main telephony, but it doesn’t play nice with Outlook 365 and causes no end of problems with corrupted cached credentials.

    Then came along zoom which we have all been encouraged to use for video calls...

    Then Teams landed.... It’s possible to have our real world phone number surfaced to Teams instead of SfB but it breaks the call delegate groups we rely on to work as a team and we cannot find a way to create groups that function in the way we’ve had SfB working for years..

    So I’m sat with Skype, zoom and teams open on my PC, with all of the fighting for control of the audio devices. Answer a call in Teams and SfB looses sight of my headset mic and tries to use the laptops built in mic which is inside the closed lid as the machine is in a docking station..

    I know MS are trying to kill SfB off, in favour of Teams, and I’d welcome having one less communications application to juggle.. but we need feature parity so we can do what we did with the old products, before we need shiny new features from the minds of of marketing men...

  15. padamiak

    This meeting is no longer available. Meeting was going on for too long and was ended.

    Given so many actually working options, why would anyone use Teams for free, let alone for serious business?

    The stress and pain are just not worth it...

  16. nextenso

    Don't make assumptions

    As a daily reader of El Reg and working in IT since 1986 and still do every day, at 73, I am 'the parent' explaining it to young uns. Don't assume that only bright young things read El Reg or work in IT or that their IQ is high.

  17. herbgold


    But Skype and Skype for Business are also M*soft products - this announcement just seems to add to the confusion. Can we have some positioning from someone who knows?

    1. nichomach

      Re: Skype???

      SfB is dead in July. I would suspect that Skype is likely to follow, especially as Teams works pretty well with Office, so it's a good way to leverage a free service to get people to take up O365.

    2. katrinab Silver badge

      Re: Skype???

      Skype will go the same way as MSN Messenger at some point. Nobody uses it any more.

  18. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Please, can we stop the "explain it to your parents" thing. The audience will either be millenials with boomer parents, or boomers with probably dead parents. I'm a boomer and I built my first computer myself, literally. It was a Compukit UK101, so computers hold no "big mystery" to me. The only thing I now lack, is interest in programmes that all seen to duplicate each other to no end. Skype personal, Skype for business, Teams and now Teams personal, and probably none of them compatible with each other.

    I would love to explain even just computers to my Dad, but unfortunately he died 46 years ago.

  19. ButlerInstitute

    Skype is Teams? (if I remember rightly)

    My understanding, and I can't remember where I read it, is that Skype and Teams use the same underlying libraries.

    Which is why you can't have both installed at the same time.

    That might be specifically SfB, rather than domestic Skype.

    1. katrinab Silver badge

      Re: Skype is Teams? (if I remember rightly)

      I have Skype and Teams installed simultaneously on Windows, MacOS, and iOS. They work as well as if only one of them was installed.

  20. Grunchy Silver badge

    Story is actually from Nov 2020

    According to these guys here:

    I do have awesome news for cheapskates like me who have a thrift-store PS3 Eye webcam who can't get it to work on Windows 64-bit because there's only 32-bit drivers, and 64-bit Teams won't use 32-bit webcams (it's like, obstinate about it).

    The trick is to use the 32-bit edition of OBS studio freeware and install the virtual webcam extension, which presents to Windows as a 64-bit service.

    What you do is restrict the video capture from the full-res 640x480 to a diminished window of 640x360, and by cutting off those 120 vertical pixels the remaining picture is of 16:9 proportion, and can then be served via Teams as a mock 720P picture.

    The best part is you can avoid "ManyCam" scamware, defy Microsoft's forced obsolescence of 32-bit web cameras, and compel your workplace to suffer with the low-res output of your thrift store prowess. Universal win on all fronts & I can confirm it actually works in the end. I am not a crank!

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