New Teams app for Windows hits preview; GA slated for June

March 27, 2023
Microsoft's long-rumored 'Teams 2.0' refresh of its collaboration platform is starting to roll out to Windows users in preview. This new release includes more than 90 new features plus performance enhancements.
an image of the chat box in the new version of Microsoft Teams

Microsoft's next major version of its Teams collaboration platform — referred to by many as "Teams 2.0" — has been rumored for several years. On March 27, Microsoft is making the new Teams Windows app (actually known as Teams 2.1), available as a public preview after many months of it being tested by its own employees inside the company.

The new Teams app for Windows is slated to become generally available in June 2023 by which time Microsoft promises it will have feature parity with "classic" Teams. The preview for Mac users is coming later this year. Microsoft will continue to support classic Teams for a transition period even while the new Teams rolls out.

Teams users in the public preview program will be able to get the new Teams for Windows preview immediately, while commercial customers will need their admins to opt into the preview before they will see the toggle allowing them to switch back and forth between the new Teams and classic Teams.

Microsoft has rewritten the new Teams app so that it's no longer an Electron-wrapped application; instead, it will use the Microsoft WebView 2 control to host the Teams experience. This will help make Teams perform better and feel less bloated. Microsoft officials say the new Teams will be two times faster and consume 50 percent less memory than the current Teams, allowing it to run better on low-end laptops and use less battery. Microsoft already built its consumer Teams platform on top of the WebView 2 framework and made the UI simpler and more intuitive, and the new Teams apps are expected to look and feel similar, though not identical, to the consumer Teams app.

The new Teams also will include a UI overhaul that will allow users to more easily stay on top of notifications, search for information, manage messages and organize channels. It will also (finally!) support simultaneous login to multiple tenancies, a long-requested feature, and will include a new drop-down panel that will show tenancies and accounts in use, so that users can receive notifications no matter which profile is currently active.

The already-announced Teams Premium add-on, which costs $10 per user per month, will provide several new features, including intelligent meeting recap. The Premium add-on includes some features that previously were available at no additional cost to Teams customers. Microsoft officials also have said a Copilot intelligent assistant for Teams will be available at some point as part of Microsoft 365 Copilot, separate from Teams Premium. The Copilot for Teams, in particular, will help users catch up on what happened before they joined a meeting or chat, among other capabilities. A Microsoft spokesperson said the company had nothing to share about when the Teams Copilot capability would be available to Teams customers in preview or final form.

Microsoft officials said the new Teams will include 90-plus new additional features, including enhancements to Teams Phones, various UI and multi-channel support. A new Collaborative notes capability, coming to public preview in April, will provide users in Teams meetings with Loop components for coordinated agendas, notes and tasks. The avatars for Teams feature, which Microsoft demonstrated a couple of years ago when the metaverse was all the rage, are in public preview.