Microsoft Teams
Developer(s)Microsoft
Initial releaseMarch 14, 2017; 6 years ago (2017-03-14)
Stable release
Android1.0.0.2023153001 / August 20, 2023; 4 months ago (2023-08-20)[1]
iOS100772023153101 / August 21, 2023; 4 months ago (2023-08-21)[1]
Windows1.6.00.22378 / August 18, 2023; 4 months ago (2023-08-18)[1]
macOS1.6.00.22155 / August 14, 2023; 5 months ago (2023-08-14)[1]
Linux1.5.00.23861 / September 19, 2022; 15 months ago (2022-09-19),[2] discontinued[3]
Written inTypeScript, Angular, React, Electron[4]
Operating systemWindows, macOS, iOS, Android, Web
Available in48 languages
List of languages
English, Arabic, Bengali, Bulgarian, Catalan, Croatian, Czech, Danish, Dutch, Estonian, Filipino, Finnish, French, German, Greek, Gujarati, Hebrew, Hindi, Hungarian, Icelandic, Indonesian, Italian, Japanese, Kannada, Korean, Latvian, Lithuanian, Malayalam, Marathi, Norwegian Bokmål, Norwegian Nynorsk, Polish, Portuguese, Romanian, Russian, Serbian, Simplified Chinese, Slovak, Slovenian, Spanish, Swedish, Tamil, Telugu, Thai, Traditional Chinese, Turkish, Ukrainian and Vietnamese.[5]
TypeCollaborative software
LicenseProprietary commercial cloud software
Websiteteams.microsoft.com

Microsoft Teams is a proprietary business communication platform developed by Microsoft, as part of the Microsoft 365 family of products.

Teams primarily competes with the similar service Slack, offering workspace chat and videoconferencing, file storage and application integration.[6] Teams replaced other Microsoft-operated business messaging and collaboration platforms, including Skype for Business and Microsoft Classroom. Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, Teams, and other software such as Zoom and Google Meet, gained much interest as many meetings moved to a virtual environment.[7]

As of January 2023, it had about 280 million monthly users.[8]

History

On August 29, 2007, Microsoft purchased Parlano and its persistent group chat product, MindAlign.[9] On March 4, 2016, Microsoft had considered bidding $8 billion for Slack, but Bill Gates was against the purchase, stating that the firm should instead focus on improving Skype for Business.[10] Qi Lu, EVP of Applications and Services, was leading the push to purchase Slack.[10] After the departure of Lu later that year, Microsoft announced Teams to the public as a direct competitor to Slack at an event in New York on November 2, 2016,[6][11] and was launched worldwide on March 14, 2017.[12][13] It is currently led by Microsoft corporate vice president Brian MacDonald.[14]

Slack ran a full-page advertisement in the New York Times acknowledging the competing service.[15] Though Slack was used by 28 companies in the Fortune 100, The Verge wrote that executives would question paying for the service if Teams provides a similar function in their company's existing Office 365 subscription.[15] ZDNet reported that the companies were not competing for the same audience, as Teams, at the time, did not let members outside the subscription join the platform, and small businesses and freelancers would have been unlikely to switch.[16] Microsoft has since added this functionality.[17] In response to Teams' announcement, Slack deepened in-product integration with Google services.[18]

In May 2017, Microsoft announced Teams would replace Microsoft Classroom in Office 365 Education.[19][20] On July 12, 2018, Microsoft announced a free version of Teams, offering most of the platform's communication options for no charge, but limiting the number of users and team file storage capacity.[21][22] In January 2019, Microsoft released an update targeting "Firstline Workers" in order to improve the interoperability of Teams between different computers for retail workers.[23][24]

In September 2019, Microsoft announced that Skype for Business would be phased out in favor of Teams. Hosted Skype for Business Online was discontinued on July 31, 2021.[25][26]

It announced a "Walkie Talkie" feature in early 2020 that uses push-to-talk on smartphones and tablets over Wi-Fi or cellular data,[27] for employees who speak with customers or run day-to-day operations.[27] On March 19, 2020, Microsoft announced Teams had hit 44 million daily users,[28] mostly due to the COVID-19 pandemic.[29] On a single day in April, it logged 4.1 billion meeting minutes.[30]

In December 2019, Microsoft released a public preview of Microsoft Teams for Linux,[31] which it discontinued in 2022.[3] In July 2020 Microsoft's video game livestreaming service Mixer shut down, with staff transferred to the Teams division.[32][33]

Usage

Teams daily active usage
July 11, 2019 (2019-07-11) 13 million[34][35]
November 19, 2019 (2019-11-19) 20 million[36]
March 12, 2020 (2020-03-12) 32 million[37]
March 19, 2020 (2020-03-19) 44 million[38]
April 29, 2020 (2020-04-29) 75 million[39]
April 27, 2021 (2021-04-27) 145 million[40]
July 27, 2021 (2021-07-27) 250 million monthly active users[41]
January 25, 2022 (2022-01-25) 270 million monthly active users[42]
July 18, 2023 (2023-07-18) 300 million monthly active users[43]

Underlying software

Microsoft Teams is a web-based desktop app, originally developed on top of the Electron framework from GitHub which combines the Chromium rendering engine and the Node.js JavaScript platform.[44] Version 2.0 was rebuilt using the Evergreen version of Microsoft Edge WebView2 in place of Electron.[45]

Features

Chats

Teams allows users to communicate in two-way persistent chats with one or multiple participants. Participants can message using text, emojis, stickers and gifs, as well as sharing links and files. In August 2022, the chat feature was updated for "chat with yourself"; allowing for the organization of files, notes, comments, images, and videos within a private chat tab.[46]

Teams

Teams allows communities, groups, or teams to contribute in a shared workspace where messages and digital content on a specific topic are shared. Team members can join through invitation sent by a team administrator or owner or sharing of a specific URL.[47] Teams for Education allows admins and teachers to set up groups for classes, professional learning communities (PLCs), staff members, and everyone.[48]

Channels

Channels allow team members to communicate without the use of email or group SMS (texting). Users can reply to posts with text, images, GIFs, and image macros. Direct messages send private messages to designated users rather than the entire channel. Connectors can be used within a channel to submit information contacted through a third-party service.[49] Connectors include MailChimp, Facebook Pages, Twitter, PowerBI and Bing News.

Group conversations

Ad-hoc groups can be created to share instant messaging, audio calls (VoIP), and video calls inside the client software.

Telephone replacement

A feature on one of the higher cost licencing tiers allows connectivity to the public switched telephone network (PSTN) telephone system. This allows users to use Teams as if it were a telephone, making and receiving calls over the PSTN, including the ability to host "conference calls" with multiple participants.[50]

Meeting

Meetings can be scheduled with multiple participants able to share audio, video, chat and presented content with all participants. Multiple users can connect via a meeting link.[51] Automated minutes are possible using the recording and transcript features. Teams has a plugin for Microsoft Outlook to schedule a Teams Meeting in Outlook for a specific date and time and invite others to attend.[52] If a meeting is scheduled within a channel, users visiting the channel are able to see if a meeting is in progress.

Teams Live Events

Teams Live Events replaces Skype Meeting Broadcast for users to broadcast to 10,000 participants on Teams, Yammer, or Microsoft Stream.[53]

Breakout Rooms

Breakout rooms split a meeting into small groups.[54]

Front Row

Front Row adjusts the layout of the viewer's screen, placing the speaker or content in the center of the gallery with other meeting participant's video feeds reduced in size and located below the speaker.[55]

Education

Microsoft Teams for Education allows teachers to distribute, provide feedback, and grade student assignments turned in via Teams using the Assignments tab through Office 365 for Education subscribers.[56] Quizzes can also be assigned to students through an integration with Office Forms.[57]

Protocols

Microsoft Teams is based on a number of Microsoft-specific protocols.[58] Video conferences are realized over the protocol MNP24, known from the Skype consumer version. VoIP and video conference clients based on SIP and H.323 need special gateways to connect to Microsoft Teams servers.[59] With the help of Interactive Connectivity Establishment (ICE), clients behind Network address translation routers and restrictive firewalls are also able to connect, if peer-to-peer is not possible.

Integrations

Microsoft Teams has integrations through Microsoft AppSource, its integration marketplace.[60] In 2020, Microsoft partnered with KUDO, a cloud-based solution with language interpretation, to allow integrated language meeting controls.[61] In June 2022, an update was released using AI to improve call audio through the elimination of background feedback loops and canceling non-vocal audio.[62]

Controversies

A vulnerability presented at a black hat conference in May 2023, showed that a hacker could secretly access the files on a presenter's computer without permission if the share desktop feature had been enabled by the presenter. The black hat conference further showed a demo job interview using Microsoft Teams in which the candidate had the files on their hard drive examined by the interviewer without the interviewee knowing about it, using a hacked version of Microsoft Teams.[63]

In July 2023, the EU Commission opened an anti-trust investigation into the possibility that Microsoft unfairly used its office suite market power to increase sales of Teams and hurt its competitors. The next month, Microsoft announced it would make Teams an optional part of the Microsoft 365 bundle, and provide more information to software developers to allow Teams users to transition to competing software with their Teams data.[64] Newer versions do not allow using browsers from other vendors to open links.[65]

See also

References

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