12 features I would like to see land in Microsoft Teams in 2022

I was writing up an answer in the Microsoft Tech Community today when it struck me that Teams is nearly 5 years old. That’s right – 5 years! Nearly as old as my son. Yet apart from feeling like time has gone by inexplicably fast – as you so often do as a parent, I also felt two things really brought home the fact that I am still incredibly invested in it. One – I still feel the best is yet to come: that even after five years of maturation we all know it can still be so much more than it is. And two, the longer I work with Teams the less I find myself concerned with the flash and more about the fundamentals; those little vital things which make it better to use on a day to day basis

So this years list will be a bit different to last years

At this point we’ve now lived with the pandemic for over 2 years. A lot has been written on Teams explosive growth as organisations across the world transitioned to remote working, settling into hybrid as vaccinations came online. In July 2019 there were 13 Million Daily Active Users (DAU) as was announced at Inspire on the pre-day at the Mandalay in Vegas. By November 2019 when news started coming out of China, 20 Million. By March 2020, 44. May 2020, 75 and by the end of 2020 it was 115 Million. Yet throughout 2021 the numbers haven’t been quite as transparent. In April DAU was confirmed as having reached 145 Million. Three months later in July Microsoft shifted reporting DAU to Monthly Active Usage (MAU) which was quoted at 250 million. Tony Redmond wrote a good article on how this didn’t all stack up. So did Tom Arbuthnot. Now, I like to think of myself as having been around the block a few times having been in the industry the best part of 15 years. Exponential growth in 2021 following exponential growth in 2020 – the old hockey sticking – is a nice narrative from a competition perspective. But even if we low balled the DAU and said it was 150 Million assuming growth basically plateaued post April that’s still bigger growth in 2021 than Teams experienced in most of it’s first three years (+35 Million). It may just be me, but I believe the pursuit of numbers and usage doesn’t capture the whole story as we also have another qualitative narrative which is this avalanche of quality adds and a massive functionality jump we’ve seen during 2021. During the last twelve months alone: Microsoft Viva GA, End to End Encryption, SIP Gateway, Operator Connect, Loop Components, the new Feedback hub, the new PSTN Service hub, Secure Score Recommendations, Meeting Chat Moderation, Task Publishing, Meeting Links, PSTN Masking, Collaborative Calling, New Bypass Options, Survivable Branch Appliance, Out of Office, Group Policy, Windows Native Notifications, App Customisation, Dynamic View, Presenter Modes, Webinars, Enhanced Participant List, new Calling UX, Group Chat with External Users, Customer Key, Lower Raise Hand, Convenience Recording, Approval Templates, Tasks from Chat, Lock Meeting, Call Health, Transferring Calls between Desktop and Mobile, Multi-Geo, Safe Links, Together Mode Extensibility, Apple Carplay, Restarting a Live Event, Message Pinning, Replying to a specific message, Default File Open location, a new External User Management experience, Cloud Shell in the TAC and Routing Calls to Unassigned Numbers. It’s absolutely incredible.

Yet despite all the adds, I think 2022 is going to be a very interesting year. First, over the course of 2021 we have seen increased call outs of performance issues including heavy CPU usage and slow load times in the community. Second, there are a number of functionality gaps which haven’t been addressed for a long time, such as apps in Private Channels. Third, and relating to the last point, whilst the recent announcements at Ignite such as Metaverse for Teams, Shared Channels and Native Contact Centre were met with much excitement and fervor, some voices in the community have become critical of the increasingly long periods between announcements and when the functionality ships into GA, citing a few who adjudged those at Ignite as bordering on vaporware which we may not even see in the next calendar year. This isn’t throwing shade at Teams, or at Microsoft. It’s more to the point that whilst we could pivot or spin it like the numbers (new adds over improvement and remediation), 2022 is a big opportunity to really admit that there are some gaps, and challenges, and some things that have been tough, then close out on some of these things which add to the general dissatisfaction within the experience of the best collaborative app on the market. From my own perspective, Metaverse – visionary stuff like that is great and all – but today people want the ability to have things like planner in their private channels.

So like the last two years, here are 12 things I would like to see land in 2022. All the links to Feedback items have been provided so please feel free to vote for them! – and if you have anything you want to see in Teams which hasn’t been asked for – go ahead and raise it there as well!

Number 1: ‘Teams 2.0’

Feedback: here
If you haven’t heard of Teams 2.0 you should. Here is an article by Tony Redmond which will get you up to speed. And here’s more coverage from my good friend Vesa Nopanen which includes the original Tweet thread confirmed by Rish Tandon, CVP of Microsoft Teams. Without draining the detail, Teams 2.0 for consumer is already here today on Windows 11, and it aims to reduce the memory footprint, deliver features like support for multiple accounts and improve release predictability. This should go some way to tackling the bulk of the criticism that comes from the community today regarding performance. A lighter app, a more responsive app, this is fundamental to a world class collaboration experience. If I had a single vote on what could improve Teams the most at the current time, this would be head and shoulders above the rest

Number 2: It’s time to end the Wiki

Feedback: here
This one carries over from last year. It’s 2022 and still no full text search, no full formatting outside of the body, no ability to import and export, no ability to restore deleted pages, no templates and no ability to print. What happened with the wiki in 2021? Nothing. And there’s nothing more frustrating to users than a much maligned functionality which is seemingly going nowhere when there is a superior app in the kit bag. 2022 has to be the year that the wiki is replaced with OneNote

Number 3: Clear the cache button

See the source image

Feedback: here
It would be amazing to do a time and motion study on how long all of us have spent clearing the cache in Microsoft Teams. I am willing bet a few thousand hours. I wish I got a question on it in MS-740 because I tell you what – I can remember the path and the folders off the top of my head since I must have done it at least 50+ times in the last year. And the amount of times I have asked others to do it in the Microsoft Tech Community borders on satirical. A real time saver would be to have a clear cache button in the settings. Push once, Teams logs out, blows the cache, and logs back in

Number 4: Outlook App in Teams

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Feedback: here
Who remembers a year or two back when a community member managed to build a custom app in App Studio for Outlook on the Web? People loved it, right? The feedback link above has over 11 thousand votes. Sure that’s not as many as Breakout Rooms, or Reply to a Message, or Private Channels, but there is lots of users who want to use email as an app in Teams. To my small mind, when I watch things like Microsoft Inspire and there in the modern workplace keynote they are calling Teams ‘the new front end’ I have to nod and smile and think yeah what for Outlook – an app most of us use everyday. People want to work wholly in Teams. It doesn’t need to be the full Outlook app to start with: simply adding a supported Outlook on the Web app into Teams would be a big win

Number 5: Support Planner and Dataverse for Teams Apps in Private Channels

See the source image

Feedback: here
For those who visit the Microsoft Tech Community often, this is one that crops up probably once or twice a week, mainly around Planner, but would extend to other apps such as Dataverse for Teams apps. It’s another one, like the wiki, that seems to rile users up: why can’t I create that app in a private channel whereas I can in a standard channel? This is pertinent because private Channels aren’t new when considering the release cadence for Teams – they have probably been around about two years as I remember writing about how big the uservoice was back in 2019. Now, I am sure that there are reasons on the back-end as to why it’s not so simple and takes time: but I remember having a conversation on the bus with Vesa Nopanen about this at Ignite 2019. That’s a long time ago in the industry we work in, and it’s a part of a bigger problem: people also want to see meetings in Private Channels (not the meet now workaround) and a fix to the long running bug of adding people to a private channel where the workaround is to do so from the mobile app

Number 6: Custom Presence Statuses

See the source image

Feedback: here
Let me tell you about my presence management: to be honest, I am really lazy with it. I get up from my machine, lock it and most of the time don’t change my presence relying on Teams to do it for me. When I am busy, I typically forget to change my status from available. When I am on annual leave and I log in I always forget to change my status to not online and always wonder why people are messaging me when I am on annual leave. I only have myself to blame. I am what those UC MVP’s would call a presence liar of sorts. But you know, I really get the people who want to be able to customise presence statuses – add things like ‘On Lunch’ ‘Focus Time’ ‘At the Gym’ ‘At the Dentist’, and the like. These people want to keep others up to date and articulate that as clearly as possible. The current presence is inflexible: it’s got better with the ability to set not online, and duration, but we need to get to custom statuses soon

Number 7: Smaller Calling Plans

CP expansion - 9-27-21

Feedback: here
Calling has had some major breakthroughs this year. First, we’ve seen the addition of SIP Gateway which, yes, support for analogue devices in a Calling Plan setup would also be good to see in the future – but it’s a big step in the right direction. Secondly, we know that communications credits will be in an Azure subscription in the new commerce experience moving forward. It’s good for partners as they maintain the billing relationship and good for customers who can use direct debit instead of a card with Microsoft direct. This leaves smaller calling plans. From my own experience I once had this organisation who liked the thought of calling plans which was absolutely a better fit, but opted to go DR because of the inflexibility of the 1200 domestic calling minutes. They were not enterprise they didn’t qualify for the 120. For many Telco providers, it’s open season on Microsoft because they come in and offer smaller calling plans tailored to the organisations needs. This isn’t an uncommon occurrence.

Number 8: Interpreter and Sign Language Support in Meetings

See the source image

Feedback: here
Technology empowers people to achieve more, strengthens their educational opportunities, and makes the workplace more inviting and inclusive. More than a billion people in the world live with disabilities. That’s why we believe accessibility is essential to our industry—and the progress of all people. That is ripped direct from the Microsoft Accessibility website. Now, most of us know or have used assistive technologies in Microsoft technologies: when we think of that we think of things like Immersive Reader, or Color Filters, or Night Light or Focus Assist. One area I think Teams could benefit is the support of interpreters and sign language in Microsoft Teams meetings. With the new presenter modes I think Microsoft isn’t too far off from being able to support these scenarios

Number 9: A Real Address Book/Contact Solution

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Feedback: here
If there is one thing that users complain about – I mean right up there with switching profiles, it’s the lack of a proper contact management solution. One that is simple. One that is unified and one that syncs elsewhere within the Microsoft 365 ecosystem. I did a blog recently that discussed building a Power App based off Lists that can be shared throughout the organisation now that Lists supports tel. But I think it doesn’t take too much imagination to see that you could have a defined application on the app rail which contained a.) Org Wide Contacts which sync to the GAL and b.) Personal Contacts which sync to Outlook. These contacts are unified for both chat and calling, and can be shared with others in your organisation. You know, something like that would probably be a nightmare on the backend, but its something that many, many users of Teams is looking for. Like the Outlook app within Teams this could be a big win if it were done right

Number 10: Create a Task from a File

Feedback: here
This is a small one which came to my attention recently in the Microsoft Tech Community. We have the ability to create a task from message, but why don’t we have the ability to create a task from a file? Sure we could go in and manually add the task to To Do or Planner. We could even use Power Automate in a scenario where we were uploading into SharePoint, or OneDrive, or modifying the file: but it would be super handy to have it there like it is on a message via more actions. Many of us work with files, many of us proof, or review, or amend. It’s one of those small but vital adds that I love, but also – to use an increasingly overused term – it is doing things in the flow of the work. I don’t want to switch context, it’s taking me off focus and could interrupt what I need to do

Number 11: Enhanced Team Report & Script Vault

See the source image

Feedback: here
As an admin, one of the things I want to be able to do is easily see my environment and easily grab the information I need to be able to make decisions. From having worked with Teams the past few years I have come to realise one of the weakest areas is in reporting out of the box. In the community it seems to be a past time for users to create innovate Powershell scripts to find out things like the owners of every team, a complete view of Teams and Channels in a Tenant, what apps are being used in what team. Now the current reports aren’t particularly bad; rather I could just use more. One that I would love is a deep report on a specific team: I want to know the owners, the members, the apps installed, the number of files, if the team uses sensitivity labels, the storage quota of the underlying SharePoint site, if the team has retention applied, if the team has sensitivity labels applied. There are people really passionate about this. I would also love to see a community section in the reports of tried and tested scripts that could be run to generate reports for information we are looking for. It would make life a lot easier for a lot of people

Number 12: 4k Resolution in Teams Meetings, Screen Sharing and Recording Modes

See the source image

Feedback: here
I have a friend who works for the British civil service who just invested in a Logitech Brio which supports 4k resolution. Except they can’t get that resolution with Teams meetings because it’s capped at 1080p. Back when the platform was rapidly scaling in 2020 this was locked for a period at 720p. The issue is that quality and fidelity of the experience and the content matters to a lot to people: that’s why they invest in great setups, lots of bandwidth, cams, lighting and green screens, and mics. To me? Hey I think the built-in cam on my Surface 4 is great. But the point there will always be a section of users who want the very best. From a competitive standpoint Zoom only supports 1080p – so why not go one better? Running alongside this is the ability to support modes in meeting recordings: many are surprised that you can experience it one way in the meeting, but its largely back to the grid on playback. The disparity between the two can be jarring. So it would be awesome to see a move forward in these areas, even to hear that 4k is confirmed for the future

Honourable Mentions

I will also be very happy to see the following features in Teams in 2022 and will surely be celebrating on social media if they are added onto the roadmap

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