Six years after its initial launch, Microsoft Teams is getting an upgrade. The new version of the productivity app for Windows promises to deliver twice the performance of its predecessor while using 50% less memory, while also integrating OpenAI’s AI-powered ChatGPT chatbot.
According to Microsoft, the new app is built on a foundation of “speed, performance, flexibility and intelligence”, allowing people to save time and collaborate more efficiently. It will also support Microsoft’s new artificial intelligence (AI) powered experience for Office 365, Copilot for Work, which was announced earlier this week.
The public preview launched today with Microsoft saying that it is already seeing “very promising data” from the build, working with independent benchmarking company GigaOm to quantify the performance gains. The results report that both the app launch and join meeting are already twice as fast, with memory consumption decreasing by half compared with the classic Teams app, MSFT claims.
Microsoft says that it has made a “ground-up investment to overhaul the platform” so it can optimise the data, network, chat and video architecture for speech and performance, and it is “by no means done” with its optimising.
The new Teams app will also provide a “simpler yet feature-rich experience” for what the company describes as a diverse and growing user base. It says the core experience will make it easier for people to stay on top of notifications, search for information, manage messages and organise channels with fewer clicks.
Microsoft Teams update: multiple accounts and AI-powered functions
Teams is the most popular business communication app in the world, with Microsoft announcing last year that it has 270 million users, putting it ahead of rivals such as Salesforce-owned Slack.
The Big Tech company says that after listening to feedback from its users, it has made changes to the way its customers access the new Teams app, especially for those who work across different organisations. It says it has made a “major investment” to support customers, improvising its authentication model and the app synchronises. Users will receive notifications for all accounts they are signed into, making the experience more seamless.
“Many customers need to collaborate with people across organisational boundaries, which sometimes means they use Teams across multiple tenants or accounts,” explains Jeff Teper, president of collaborative apps and platforms at Microsoft. “Instead of logging in and out of different tenants and accounts, you can now stay signed in across them all.”
Microsoft’s new Teams app is also going to use AI-powered experiences such as intelligent recap and Copilot to make working a lot smarter.
Previously only available on Teams Premium, intelligent recap can generate meeting notes, recommended tasks and personalised highlights to help call attendees to get the information they need, even if they miss the meeting. Microsoft launched ChatGPT for Teams earlier this month, making the first product announcement from the tech giant to incorporate the chatbot tech since it took a further $10bn stake in OpenAI. It also confirmed it would offer the API through Azure cloud service.
The new version of Teams will offer Copilot, which combines the power of large language models with data in the Microsoft Graph. This includes a user’s calendar, emails, chats, documents, meetings and the Microsoft 365 apps such as Word, Excel, PowerPoint and Outlook. Announced this month, data from GitHub Copilot showed that 88% of users were more productive and 77% found that Copilot helped them spend less time searching for information.
“We’re only just beginning to see the potential of AI inside of Teams, and we will have lots more to share in the future,” said Taper.
Available on the public preview program from today, Microsoft says that the general availability of the new Teams app will be available later in 2023. Commercial customers can access through public preview and can switch back to classic Teams at any time.