This Week in IT: Microsoft Teams Client for Mac Gets a Major Update


This Week in IT, are you a Microsoft Teams user on a Mac? Then you won’t want to miss this game-changing update! Stick around to find out what’s changing. Plus, Microsoft releases a new Group Policy analytics tool and Loop components are getting a new feature for developers. And all the rest of this week’s Microsoft 365 and Windows news.


Are you a Teams user on a Mac? Then you won’t want to miss this game-changing update. So stick around to find out about the latest changes. Plus, Microsoft is releasing a Group Policy Analytics tool and Loop gets a new feature for developers.

Welcome to This Week in IT, where I cover all the Microsoft 365 and Windows news. Before we get started, I’ve got a quick favor to ask you. 88% of all the people who watched last week’s video were not subscribed to the channel. Now we’re on about 540 subscribers as this goes live. What I’d really love is to get us up to 600 subscribers. So if you wouldn’t mind helping us with that goal, I’d really appreciate it. So as you’re probably well aware, Microsoft has been talking about the new Teams client for more than a couple of years now.

Finally, in the spring, it became available for Windows in preview form. And at the end of last month, it was made available more generally. So if you’re using the legacy client, everybody now should have the toggle switch that allows you to switch over to the new client if you want to do so. Microsoft is planning to make the updated client the default experience for everybody on Windows by the end of this year. So what does this got to do with Mac OS? So the updated client is up until now only being available for Windows. So what happened this week? Microsoft announced that they’ve released in preview form the updated client now for Mac users. Now I know that there’s been a lot of complaints about the legacy Teams client on Mac that the performance is even worse than the Windows clients. Lots of complaints about it.

So of course, this is a welcome change for Mac users. It is in preview, but of course, I would imagine this will become more generally available at the beginning of next year. So why are Mac users having to wait for this? So the new client is based on Microsoft Edge WebView 2, which is a portable application technology, cross-platform application technology, a little bit like Electron, much the legacy client is built on, but with much better performance.

Now, Microsoft has been testing the new client on Windows first, because I guess that just makes sense. That’s where the biggest user base is. Now Microsoft claimed that they were bringing all sorts of performance improvements to the updated client. You know, I don’t remember the exact figures, but something like 50% increase in startup performance, switching between channels and chats and all that kind of thing within the application is much more responsive. When you’re on a video call, the video and audio is much more optimized.

The problem with Electron is that it was really slow and really resource intensive. So it used huge amounts of memory. Now, if you’re sitting with a desktop PC that’s plugged into the wall with lots of power, it’s maybe not such an issue, but that’s probably not how most users are working with the team’s client. They’ve got a notebook, maybe they’re sitting in a cafe somewhere or they’re on the road traveling. And the problem with all of this stuff connected with Electron and the high resource usage is not just performance, but battery power. The more memory you use, the more CPU power you require, then the quicker the battery drains. So that’s a real big problem for people using Teams on a notebook. But the new client helps to address many of those issues. Now, of course, something based on WebView2 isn’t a native application. This is a compromise. Microsoft didn’t want to go down the native application route. And I think this is a good compromise because if you think about Word on Windows, Word on a Mac, both native applications, the problem is that they’ve never seen a future parity. They’re essentially different applications.

Microsoft has never been able to make them exactly the same. But with this solution, we get the same application, the same user experience, even if there’s a slight hit on performance. So if your users are part of the Teams public preview or the targeted release channels, then they will get the option to switch over that toggle switch in the legacy client and it will automatically download the updated client and allow them to use it. But the client is still in preview. It’s not quite feature complete. So you don’t have a cameo in PPT, green screen or NDI. I know that maybe not all users are using those things, but you need to be aware of that if you do have users on this preview.

You need to be using a Mac Big Sur or later as well. And also remember that users can always toggle back to the legacy client if they find that something’s not working for them or there’s a feature that they need that just isn’t in the updated client yet. There’s always the ability for users to go back without having to call IT. They can just do it themselves by switching that toggle switch back so that they can use the legacy client. Let me know what your experience of the new Teams app has been, whether that’s on Windows or this new Mac OS preview. I’d really love to know what you think in the comments below. Microsoft has also announced some new features that were made available as part of Teams in August. So let’s go through those quickly. So one is that IT administrators can now see real-time performance data of video calls. So if there’s some kind of event going on or some kind of important call, they’re able to now monitor that performance in real time.

And hopefully that makes it easier for them to solve any problems that might occur. There are also new controls that allow administrators to restrict the custom backgrounds that users are allowed to select in a Teams meeting. So of course that might be quite a good thing if you’ve got really important clients and you’ve got users that are choosing, let’s say sometimes not always the most appropriate backgrounds. And in the admin center, IT administrators are now able to pin certain applications in advance of a meeting. So if you know that your users are gonna need a particular application, you can pin it to make sure that it’s easily and readily available for them.

For Microsoft Teams phones users, Microsoft has streamlined the experience for delegators and delegates just to make things a little bit easier for them. If you’ve got Microsoft Teams phones certified devices, there’s now a new feature that allows you to pre-configure those devices to automatically call a particular number. So it could be your IT help desk for instance. And for Teams rooms and devices, there’s now a new configuration experience for the front row view. So you’ll be able to segment video with a unified background and also remove individual backgrounds, adjust participant size and apply unified background for all participants if you want. There’s also support coming for spatial audio, multi-stream intelligent camera features, as well as face and voice recognition.

As we’re talking quite a lot about Mac OS this week, Microsoft is introducing single sign-on support for Mac devices. So this is when you’re signing into a website, Office 365 or some other website that relies on entry ID that was previously Azure Active Directory of course, for the signing capability. So if you think on Windows, you’ve got features like passwordless, authentication, all of that is coming to Mac OS via some kind of plugin. I haven’t seen how that works exactly. So that’ll be interesting. Maybe we’ll cover that on Petri soon, but this is coming to Mac. So you should have an easier sign-in experience. It makes it easier for IT administrators also to onboard new users. Microsoft is making generally available along with Intune release 2308, a new group policy analytics tool. Now, essentially what this does is help administrators understand their existing on-premises group policy environment.

Of course, that can be quite a complex thing to understand. And then to determine whether there are any potential conflicts or issues if they wanted to migrate those settings that they have in group policy across to MDM in Intune for instance. So that’s mobile device management. So trying to migrate group policy settings across to Intune, it’s a complex and risky thing to do. So this tool is trying to simplify that process for you. So once it’s determined your current GPO landscape, any potential issues and conflicts, it also includes a migration wizard that will actually help you to make those changes. Of course, Microsoft is trying to push people away from on-premises Windows Server, Active Directory, trying to push companies to using the cloud. So this is another tool that’s designed to help make that process as smooth and seamless as possible. But it seems like an interesting tool. So if you’re in the process or just thinking about migrating away from on-premises Active Directory, then take a look at it. If you’re a developer and you’re also using Microsoft Loop or you’re thinking about using Microsoft Loop, there is now a code elements, a code block I suppose is the right terminology that you can insert to a Loop page. So it just allows you to view the code and keep the formatting in some code-friendly block.

And while this doesn’t provide the same facilities or something like Visual Studio Code, it still just helps developers communicate and to keep their code in a readable, understandable format that’s not gonna get messed up when they copy it out of some application into Loop. Now, I don’t know at the end of the day how useful this is really gonna be for developers. Of course, Loop is still in preview, so probably it doesn’t have the biggest user base at the moment. But anyway, I think anything like this is a helpful feature. And of course, don’t forget that Loop components can be used in other applications like Outlook and Teams. So it’s not just, you know, you have this in your Loop workspace, this code block. You can also use it to help you format your code across different Microsoft 365 applications. If you watched last week’s episode, then you might remember that with the optional update that came at the end of August, some users were experiencing a blue screen of death if they were running an MSI motherboard with the latest BIOS updates installed.

And MSI have released a BIOS update to fix the problem caused by the previous latest update. So if you were experiencing that problem, it’s good to know that there’s now a solution, especially in time for Patch Tuesday, because of course those updates are expected to be part of the Patch Tuesday release in September. Conditional access templates and the overview feature are now generally available. So templates are exactly what you would imagine them to be, you can set up templates for your conditional access policies and use the template to create a new policy. And the overview feature is a new addition that allows you to get an overview of what’s happening with your conditional access policies across your tenant. So you get that high level view of what’s going on. You can see which policies are in place and how they’re being used.

There are also several new features in Windows Auto Patch this month. So the ability for administrators to pause updates to a particular ring or group. So I don’t know, maybe there’s some particular issue or you need to delay the updates for whatever reason, maybe they’ve got some important work and it would just be helpful to delay the update by a day or two. You now have the ability to target that pause essentially at the group or ring level. This is a readiness feature if you like. So now there’s an ability in Auto Patch to detect in a system whether there might be any registry conflicts configured there that might prevent Windows updates from installing properly. So that’s just a new visibility tool that allows administrators to see in advance whether there’s gonna be some kind of issue. Also this month, Microsoft have announced they now have an exclude feature in Auto Patch so that you can, it’s like a self-service feature if you like that you can exclude a device from enrollment in the Auto Patch system. So it doesn’t completely deregister it if you like, it just moves it or it delete it from Auto Patch, it just moves it to unregistered essentially.

And that new feature is called exclude device. Once the device has been excluded and it’s now kind of set as unregistered, you have the ability to also re-enroll it so you can get it back into the Auto Patch system if that’s what you want to do. If you found this video useful, I’d really appreciate it if you gave it a like because that helps us get more people seeing the video on YouTube. And of course, if you’d like to see this kind of news update every week, don’t forget to subscribe to the channel and hit the bell notification to make sure you don’t miss out on the latest uploads. I’m gonna leave you with another video on the screen right now that you might also find interesting but that’s it from me this week and I’ll see you next time.