Microsoft concedes that some existing Teams features will become part of pricier Premium edition

January 12, 2023
Microsoft plans to move some existing Teams business features into a $10 per user per month add-on this spring.
Microsoft Teams displayed in a conference room

When Microsoft introduced its $10 per user/per month Teams Premium add-on in October 2022, the company didn't make clear that some features that users get now as part of the core Teams edition will be moving to Premium. But that, indeed, will be the case right after the Premium add-on is commercially available in February 2023.

Microsoft revealed the planned line-up switch earlier this week, as discovered by The Register. Updated information in Microsoft's licensing documentation for partners clarified that a handful of existing Teams features will be moving to Teams Premium. As we noted in a recent Directions on Microsoft Briefing podcast episode, live translated captions was known to be a Premium feature, but Microsoft originally did not make it clear that it planned to move existing, no-additional-cost Teams features into the Premium add-on and make them available only for an extra fee.

The Microsoft-provided list of existing Teams features moving to the Premium add-on:

  • Live translated captions;
  • Timeline markers in Teams meeting recordings for when a user left or joined meetings;
  • Custom organization Together mode scenes;
  • Virtual Appointments: SMS notifications;
  • Virtual Appointments: Organizational analytics in the Teams admin center;
  • Virtual Appointments: Scheduled queue view.

Officials said these features will continue to be available for no additional cost to Teams business customers for 30 days following the date when Teams Premium is generally available.

Microsoft officials were a bit squirrely about the feature line-up for Teams vs. Teams Premium when I asked last year whether the newly announced Teams Premium features would be available only as part of the Premium add-on or not.

At that time, officials did say that the Premium add-on option would be available to customers with the following plans: Microsoft/Office 365 E1, E3, E5; Microsoft Teams Essentials (Azure AD), Microsoft 365 Business Basic, Business Standard and Business Premium; Microsoft 365 F1 and F3 and Office 365 F3; Microsoft/Office 365 A1, A3, A5; and Government. Microsoft/Office 365 G3 and G5. They did acknowledge that the majority of the capabilities introduced in Teams Premium will have a licensing policy based on the meeting organizer, so that attendees without Teams Premium who are in a meeting organized by a Teams Premium licensed user be able to use the premium features, with the exception of Intelligent recap.

In addition to the aforementioned Teams Premium features, the Premium add-on will include Meeting Guides; Advanced Meeting Protection; and Advanced webinars

Update (January 13): It looks like the regular vs. Premium feature set isn't the only Teams-related switcheroo happening. Microsoft also is notifying users of the "classic" free version of Teams that businesses will no longer have access to it after April 12, 2023. Microsoft's notification page on the change suggests users go with Teams Essentials, the standalone, $4 per user per month, version instead. However, there still will continue to be a free Teams client available.

Users who make the switch from the classic to newer free version will be able to view and save files in their current account through April 12, but none of their information will transfer to their new free account, the page states. The newer Teams free client includes unlimited group meetings up to 60 minutes long; up to 100 participants per meeting; and 5 GB of cloud storage per user. I've asked Microsoft for information on what's different between the newer and older free clients, as well as why it is dropping the classic free Teams client. No word back so far. (Thanks to "WalkingCat" on Twitter for the heads up on this.)

(Update: January 16) Microsoft seems to be doing this in order to have a single free client for both personal and small business. Teams Free (classic) was built on Azure Active Directory, and the new Teams (free) is built on Microsoft Account (MSA). For the past year-plus,Microsoft has only allowed new customers to sign up for the new Teams (free).