Consider this a follow-up to my July 10th post about Microsoft Teams.

Microsoft Teams has surpassed Slack in daily active users purely because the majority of corporate America is already subscribed to Office 365 and MS Teams is included for free. This adoption rate has been detailed in other blogs already but Slack has been under threat by this for a while and I’m sure a lot of this may have contributed to why they sold to Salesforce. Slack is not a failure but the juggernaut that is Microsoft ate their lunch by giving away a copycat to their customers. 

I started using Slack for my office collaboration in 2016. In 2018, my day-job asked me to stop using Slack despite the fact I was using 2 Factor Authentication and complex passwords. I fully understand their position in asking I stop using it. If I were in their shoes, I’d do what they did and ban HipChat, Slack and a few others in favor for, at the time, Skype for Business & Microsoft Teams.

Skype for Business was deprecated in 2020 so in 2019, we moved fully over to Microsoft Teams and it did, as a 4500 person company reduce the amount of emails I received. It worked to gobble up the back & forth, mundane and noise. I continue to have very serious concerns about messaging apps over email because the data (conversations, files, decisions) are locked to a proprietary platform with no open data standards being followed. Meaning, if Microsoft deprecates Teams or we stop paying for Office 365, every corporate decision made is lost forever. How will auditors follow a paper trail of millions of short messages and no subject-line or To/CC fields? That’s their problem but I personally just want to find something I sent / wrote 2-20 years ago easily like I just did when it came to my first email from Slack when I joined in 2016. Finding that out in Slack would have taken hundreds of scrolling motions on my trackpad and server-fetching of old messages to find my ‘first’ slack post. My Inbox told me in 5 seconds when I joined. That’s why I’m bullish on email as the last true open standard that will (I guarantee it) outlive both Microsoft Teams and Slack. 

Luckily, my organization has gotten wise and is officially adopting Slack in June. Unfortunately, they’re doing it in a way I full disagree with and the reason why could be cost, politics or data security but our Slack implementation is a half-breed. It’s Slack for messaging yet files you post in Slack still get saved to SharePoint and if you initiate a call in Slack or meeting, it jumps you to Microsoft Teams for that audio/video portion. You’re expected to chat about the meeting in Slack while you’re in a call in Teams. I have zero insight into why we’re doing the hybrid model, I’m pretty low on the org chart.

…this is not why I’m ranting and there’s nothing I can do to change their decision…It is what it is.

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Microsoft Teams is a bad piece of software on the Mac. The MacBU has a storied 30 year history of world-class Macintosh software. They prided themselves on shipping features for Mac first before Windows got them like immersive reader, the ribbon view and complex charts & graphs. The MacBU had their own office space, organizational structure and release cycles. They were a profitable group within Microsoft and they were often first to support a lot of new technologies with the only one I had a gripe with before today being it took them a decade to add multi-core CPU support to Microsoft Excel. My organization regularly passes around 150 megabyte Excel files and to see just one of my 16 cores executing a pivot table command or formula while I see a visual beachball always annoyed me. They eventually (I think in 2018) added multi-core support to Excel. In fact, after writing this, I wonder if the Macintosh Business Unit @ Microsoft is even responsible for MS Teams on Mac at all? It’s not fair in my title to throw them under the bus because I just assumed they were the only group shipping Mac software but maybe MS Teams functions independently of MacBU?

Microsoft Teams, like Slack and Discord uses Electron.  This is already a crime but Microsoft Teams fails in a few very glorious ways

  • First, when you are doing video or phone calls, Teams will use roughly 50% of my Core i9 powered iMac with 8 physical 3.6Ghz Cores and it will use half of my 8 gigabytes of video ram on my Vega 48 card. On my MacBook Pro, it would peg me at 100% just to have a phone call with the fan spinning up like crazy.
  • Second, their notifications are non-native so if I have a calendar reminder at the top right hand corner of MacOS, Microsoft’s notifications will appear behind it often with a blank window for 5 seconds then finally drawing the notification contents. This non-native Notification system should be banned as in Apple should step in and tell Microsoft to cut the crap and adopt native notifications.
  • Finally, my biggest gripe (and possibly related to the notification system) is the WindowServer / UIServer function. I use the latest version of MacOS with 2 displays and about 8 virtual desktops (a native component of MacOS). I run every application except Safari in full screen mode and I use my track pad to 3 finger swipe between applications OR utilize +Tab OR click the doc icon to bring the application I want to the forefront. When I invoke MS Teams via a notification or one of the aforementioned methods, MS Teams doesn’t appear. The Apple Menu shows “MS Teams” instead of say, Finder which I was previously active in but there’s no window. Even if I take Teams out of full screen mode and place it behind Safari, clicking the Teams icon does nothing. 

I posted this complaint to Reddit and it appears I’m not alone. At some point in the last 6 months, Teams would go active but would not bring its window to front. So, for example if I’m muted in a meeting and someone calls my name, I have to 3 finger scroll or utilize my bottom right hand corner trigger for “all windows” via Expose (formerly called name?) to find MS Teams, wait for the window to update, click on the meting then unmute myself. People think I’m not paying attention when in fact I just didn’t have Teams at the forefront. This happened 4-6 times a day.

Microsoft Teams is getting worse, not better and while I thought I would never write this post because I knew Slack was coming, when it turned out that my meeting experience which hits all 3 of my gripes will remain in 2021 despite a move to Slack for everything else, I have to write this post in the hopes someone sees it. 

In December, I did a full MacOS rebuild from scratch without restoring from Time Machine. This took about 3 days of my Christmas holiday and it did not fix my issue. Now that I know others have the same issue, I am kindly asking Microsoft to please do a quality of life update to Microsoft Teams and please consider making it a native MacOS or Catalyst application so we can get functional meetings again. The iPad app functions well enough that I’d even be okay with a port to Mac. I used their iPad app for 2 weeks in 2020 and was pleasantly surprised how great it was even at multi-function and using native iOS VOIP & Notification functions. 

Help me Microsoft, you’re my only hope.

PS: The opinions here are my own. I know my company has Microsoft as a client & partner, my views do not reflect that of my organization and it is entirely my personal and sole opinion. I have not confirmed this issue with colleagues since I’m the only MacOS user in my organization that I know of. I want to use great software and Microsoft makes great software, a focus on MS Teams will help me be more productive and efficient.