New Leaders, New Drive
The news that Microsoft has hired Manik Gupta as the new leader for Teams Consumer and Skype wasn’t surprising. Teams consumer, or to use its other title, Teams for your personal life, has barely made a dent in consumer consciousness since its debut last year. Perhaps Gupta’s experience in apps will boost the capabilities of Teams consumer and make it more attractive to people who use apps like WhatsApp and Facebook to organize their personal lives. Reporting to Jeff Teper, head of OneDrive, SharePoint, and Teams, Gupta will also oversee Skype (consumer) and GroupMe, a chat app I’d forgotten all about.
New leaders often bring a mixture of focus and creativity that’s needed to move an organization forward, and that’s probably what Microsoft hopes for here. They did the same for Yammer some years ago when they hired Murali Sitaram to lead that product out of a deep dive. There’s been some good progress in Yammer since, largely hidden by the success Teams has had in the same period.
Teams and Windows 11
The next big thing for Teams consumer is its debut as a chat and calling client in Windows 11. According to Rish Tandon, Microsoft Corporate VP for Teams engineering, this will be the first iteration of a new Teams client (generation 2), moving away from the original and current Electron base to use the Edge WebView2 component and ReactJS. According to Tandon, the new architecture will allow Teams to add support for multiple accounts, reduce memory consumption by half, and speed performance.
Need to Wait for a New Enterprise Teams Client
However, this description is for the Teams consumer client, not its enterprise counterpart. I’ve seen some ill-informed commentary that a new Teams enterprise client will be available soon after Windows 11 ships which will deliver all the benefits of the new architecture. Sorry folks, that’s neither true nor realistic. The Teams consumer client is a pale shadow of the enterprise client. Microsoft must reengineer a bunch of enterprise-focused features to make sure that everything works smoothly on the new platform. The kind of thing I’m referring to includes:
- Channels (regular, private, and public), including guest user access and external federation. In addition, there’s the channel management features like analytics, email integration, and archiving.
- Teams Voice enterprise features like calling plans and integration with meeting room systems.
- Teams meetings, including webinars, meeting recordings, transcription, and other resources (like forms used for polls in meetings).
- Apps and connectors, including first-party apps like Yammer Communities, Viva Insights, Viva Learning, Stream, and Tasks (Planner). Plus, app setup policies and other enterprise controls and all the stuff which third-party developers depend on for apps like the Adobe Sign integration with the Teams Approvals app.
- Offline access for messaging.
- Making sure everything works well on Windows, Mac, and Linux (desktop and browser).
In short, there’s lots more involved in moving the Teams enterprise client to a new platform than there is to create a new chat and calling client to replace Skype in Windows 11. Microsoft has stayed tight-lipped on the delivery date for enterprise versions of the Teams desktop and browser clients based on the new architecture. I don’t expect to see this software released much before the end of Q1 CY2022. I could be wrong, but I suspect not. It just takes time to do software right.