Ever since the announcement of Windows 10 in 2014, Microsoft has permitted early access to pre-release builds and new features through their Windows Insider for Business Program. The latest addition to this collection of insider offerings is a new public preview channel for Microsoft Teams. The collaborative workspace has continued to grow as a hub for Microsoft’s communications-based tasks during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Early access to a Microsoft Teams preview has been available to customers since before its release four years ago through a Technology Adoption Program (TAP) that customers could sign up for. While this did give users early access to upcoming features and enhancements, it was not intended for broad distribution. The Teams public preview channel will not replace the TAP, but it is the first time that Microsoft has offered a public preview channel that will allow its customers to give their end users broad access to the sneak peeks.
As expected, a full set of tools are available from Microsoft for IT administrators to use for managing which users have access to this broader public preview channel.
According to Microsoft, the Microsoft Teams preview channel targets organizational users who might be involved in evaluating upcoming features and whether they will be beneficial to the organization ahead of their public availability. This channel is also appropriate for developers who build applications for Microsoft Teams and want to get ahead of the feature release and update their apps. Those changes are available immediately once the feature goes public.
The features and enhancements released to the Microsoft Teams preview channel for public access are labelled as quality updates which means they have been tested throughout other early access programs prior to their broader availability in this public preview channel.
These announced changes for Microsoft Teams build upon the Beta and Private Preview channels that are already available through the Teams Insider Program and TAP.
In addition, these changes help align the Microsoft Teams preview channels with those for Windows and Office to create a clearer map of what users can expect in these early access channels.
The first batch of features are starting to roll out to the new Public Preview Channel this week and include these enhancements:
- Windows 10 Native Notifications
- Large Gallery View and Together Mode for Web
- 2x2 on Citrix and VMWare VDI
- Meeting Reactions
- Call Merge Capability
This new Microsoft Teams preview channel is only available to enterprise and education customers and must be configured by the tenant admin. It is not a consumer based public preview.