Teams integration in Windows 11 continues to be Microsoft’s abandoned child

If you’ve read my Windows 11 review almost a year ago or my Closer Look column on integrating Microsoft Teams into the OS, you probably know by now that I’m not a bigger fan of this feature. I talked about how the shoehorn implementation is simple, buggy, and has a lot of missing features.

But hey, it also looks a lot like Windows 11’s taskbar, so why doesn’t my article mention it? The reason is that the taskbar actually catches the attention of Microsoft. Sure, there are complaints that it’s too little, too late, but at least Microsoft is adding and returning functionality to it. On the other hand, we saw hardly any movement on the Teams front, and that’s what worries me given that the app sits in the foreground in the taskbar by default.

Two broken Teams windows in Windows 11

There have been few to no updates to the Teams experience in Windows 11 over the past year. Almost all of my complaints about the lack of context menus, features, and bugs still stand. The only relatively major improvement I’ve seen in the last year in Teams is support for Snap Layouts. However, even that’s not a slam dunk as it’s something that should have been there since launch.

Task Manager in Windows 11 showing Teams consuming more than 400MB of RAM

Then there’s also the issue of Teams’ abysmal performance. Although Microsoft has already spoken on how migrating from Electron and AngularJS to Edge WebView2 and React should result in reduced memory consumption and “scaling for the client” all sounds like gibberish when I open a window Teams chat and I see RAM usage jump anywhere between 400-600MB.

Even with the arrival of Windows 11 version 22H2 later this month, Teams only gets a few relatively minor features at the operating system level. These are the ability to mute the taskbar mic and the ability to split an open window when hovering over it from an app in the taskbar. Considering Windows 11 has been out for almost a year, that doesn’t sound all that exciting for an app that sits in the center of the operating system’s taskbar by default.

But perhaps the most telling aspect of Microsoft’s apparent lack of interest in Teams on Windows 11 is that the company barely talks about it. It offsets footnotes in the Windows 11 Insider build changelogs. Heck, Microsoft even teamed up with Disney for a Windows 11 ad (video above) featuring She-Hulk and while we saw Snap layouts, Office apps, and even virtual desktops, Teams was a no-show. Considering that Teams Work users in Windows 11 can now interact with both personal and external accounts, I would have thought marketing this capability would have been a natural fit to show lawyer usage of the OS in this announcement, but no.

Of course, just because Teams isn’t featured in an announcement doesn’t mean it’s a low priority for Microsoft. But consider the fact that Microsoft hasn’t shared any statistics on Teams usage on Windows 11. We know Teams has millions of monthly active users overall, but how many actually use the built-in integration with Windows 11 ? No idea.

The comparison that immediately came to mind when thinking about this was Cortana. Microsoft has constantly advertised the capabilities of its (arguably) failing digital assistant, including releasing statistics on how users have asked it 18 billion questions since its launch. On the other hand, we have yet to find out if Teams is gaining traction.

Of course, it’s not really about the impact on my productivity or my workflows. I could easily hide the app from the taskbar and never think about it again. But given that Microsoft has been pushing personal use of Teams over the past few months, seeing the app in its current stagnant state just feels wrong to me.

I know tons of people who use and love Windows 11, but none of them intentionally opened the Teams app more than once. Whether this is due to Microsoft’s lack of focus on developing and releasing the feature as it relates to Windows 11 or whether people may have better alternatives for communicating with personal connections online is something that doesn’t is still unclear. If it’s the first, the situation can be corrected, but if it’s the second, it’s the remarkable short-sightedness of Microsoft’s vision and strategy.

I’m an active Teams customer at my workplace and really like the communication app despite its flaws. Microsoft wants Teams Personal to be the FaceTime of Windows 11, but it hasn’t made any effort to make that vision a reality. A bundled OS app deserves better, Teams deserves better.

What do you think of Teams integration in Windows 11? Are you satisfied with the implementation? Let us know in the comments section below!

About Sally E. Bartley

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