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Microsoft Teams desktop app got a performance boost. Did you spot it?

Microsoft's collaboration tools have had an upgrade and performance boost.
Written by Liam Tung, Contributing Writer
Image: 10'000 Hours / Getty

Microsoft has implemented more under-the-hood improvements to its Teams desktop client that it claims has delivered improvements in latency for key scenarios. 

Microsoft's Jeff Chen in a new blogpost explains the latest latency improvements are "mainly attributed to the upgrade of the framework, which we introduced this month."

The upgrade should be visible for users of the Teams app on Windows and Mac. 

"The upgraded Teams framework provides technical benefits including rendering the HTML tree faster, running JavaScript and serializing arrays more efficiently," Chen notes. 

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So, what should users notice? According to Microsoft, the most common action for users is to switch between different chats, channels, and activity feeds. Compared to June 2020, switching between chats is 32% faster, while switching between channels is 39% faster. The June 2022 release delivered 20% faster switching between chat threads, and 28% switching between Channel threads. 

Since the framework upgrade, join time has improved by 21%, while responsiveness during meetings has "improved". One example is that raising hands during a meeting has 16% less latency than the previous build. 

These are decent gains and they're important given how central Teams has become for its developer story. 

Teams has about 270 million users, and each month Microsoft is adding new AI-related features and in February 2023 will launch Teams premium for $10 a month per user. Teams has been included in Office 365/Microsoft 365 while the Premium add-on will be offered to multiple enterprise subscriptions. The licensing policy is based on the meeting organizer, meaning attendees without Teams Premium can use the premium features (with the exception of Intelligent recap), so long as a meeting is organized by a Teams Premium licensed user.

Microsoft's Mark Langton, responding to comments on Chen's post, admitted that the company still has more work to do to reduce CPU utilization. 

"As you call out resource utilization is top of mind to us as well and we will continue to invest to improve," wrote Langton. 

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Regarding the shift away from Electron, Longton confirmed that the Teams architecture still utilizes Electron, but he doesn't rule out that a shift away from Electron could happen in the future. 

"All of these changes are on the current app architecture that does leverage Electron and this is not announcing any new architecture," wrote Longton. 

"As new developments are released or have a near team line of site we will certainly share all the details that we have. I can say that we are taking performance and resource utilization very seriously and there is significant continued investment in this area." 

The desktop client was developed on Electron, which uses the Chromium rendering engine – behind both Edge and Chrome – for rendering. Electron is a framework for building desktop applications.

Microsoft has been working on "Teams 2.0", which reportedly will move the desktop app off Electron in pursuit of better performance. However, as Longton explained in June, when highlighting Teams performance gains, the key backend changes included moving from the Angular JavaScript framework to React, and "upgrading Electron" rather than moving off it. 

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