Before Microsoft announced that it was rebranding Office 365 for consumers to Microsoft 365, it provided press and bloggers with this digital briefing. I’m not sure why they waited so long to post it publicly, but this is what we saw ahead of the March 30 announcement and the April 21 launch of Microsoft 365 Personal and Family.
I’m posting this now because Microsoft’s public announcement clearly confused some people about the new features it was offering to consumer subscribers of Microsoft 365 and when those features would arrive. Most confusing of all, I think, was a miscommunication about a consumer version of Teams. There’s no such thing: Microsoft will instead add consumer features to the existing Teams apps and will allow users to move back and forth between the personal and work functionality. Indeed, that was the theme of this digital briefing: Live, work, play.
Related to this, of course, is when those changes will come to Teams. Of all the new Microsoft 365 functionality that Microsoft did announce, this is perhaps the furthest off. But since so many people expected to wake up on April 21 and see a new Teams app in their new Microsoft 365 for consumer subscription, this was clearly not communicated very well.
In this video, however, it’s a bit clearer. Right up front, Yusuf Mehdi says that after rebranding the Office 365 consumer offerings to Microsoft 365, Microsoft will update both OneDrive and Outlook(.com). Then, it will introduce two new experiences, a Family Safety app and Teams. But both aren’t coming anytime soon: Family Safety will be in “limited preview” in the coming months and Teams will be “in preview this Summer,” Microsoft said, before a public release later in the year.
The Teams portion of the video begins at the 21:00 minute mark exactly.
Mehdi notes that Skype is used by over 200 million people and is “a fantastic tool,” while Teams is the fastest-growing Microsoft app ever for Microsoft’s business and education customers. “The next big step for Teams,” he says, “is bringing the power of Teams to your personal life.” And there’s the distinction. While many will hear “Teams for consumers” (or “Teams for consumer,” as Mehdi says a few times), what this is really about is bringing consumer features to Teams. Not a separate app.
The Teams demo happens on mobile, but this isn’t just about mobile, obviously: Teams will be updated with consumer features on desktop and web, too.
The demoer says that “in the summertime”—referring to the preview, not the final release—Team users will be able to add their personal account “to their existing Teams app.” This will let users have group chats, shared files, shared calendars, that span work and home. In at least the mobile version of the app, you will switch between work and home views (via the different accounts), so it appears to be a bit modal. This is one the OneDrive mobile app works today, as opposed to the OneDrive desktop application, where you can see personal and work data side-by-side in File Explorer.
Anyway, there’s a bit more to it, but this video explains why people like Brad, Mary Jo, and I were clear on when consumer functionality was coming to Teams.
What I’m still curious about, of course, is why so many were not. Looking at Microsoft’s original announcement, I can see that they discuss “new features in Microsoft Teams that bring you closer to your friends and family to more deeply connect and collaborate on the things that matter most to you,” which doesn’t suggest a new app.
“To provide one app to help manage work and life and deepen your connection with those who matter most, today we previewed new features coming to Microsoft Teams for your personal life,” the announcement explains. “With these new features coming to Teams, you can connect, stay organized, and collaborate with family and friends … These new features are coming in preview to the Microsoft Teams mobile app in the coming months.”
So I don’t know.
Anyway, if you care about this stuff, it’s worth watching the video.