Post upated on June 10, 2020 with news that Teams now supports PCs with AVX graphics (not AVX2) for background effects, including blur.
Hardware Support for Teams Background Blur
Announced in July 2018 along with the free version of Teams, users can blur the background of video calls. The feature is now generally available. However, the technology to perform face recognition to identify the person and understand where the background to be blurred begins and ends only runs on reasonably recent PC equipped with Advanced Vector Extension 2 (AVX) graphics. AVX is what Teams uses to blur the background after it figures out where the user is.
AVX is supported by PCs that have a post-Haswell chipset. Blurring works on my Surface Book 2, but doesn’t on my HP Envy 17 of 2014 vintage. Be aware that the CPU has some processing to do to locate a face and blur the background, so it can impact other work on the PC if you run a loaded system.
Formal advice about hardware support needed for blurring is available on this page, which notes: “The optional Blur my background video effect requires a processor with Advanced Vector Extensions 2 (AVX2) support. See Hardware decoder and encoder driver recommendations for a list of unsupported decoders and encoders.“
Background blur is supported in the Teams desktop client for Windows and Mac, but not in the Linux or browser clients.
For more information about the hardware requirements for blurring, see the note in hardware requirements for Microsoft Teams. More detailed information for Windows PC is in hardware decoder and encoder driver recommendations.
Blurring Your Background
To blur your background during a video call, select the Start video with blur option when you join a call or the Blur my background option from the […] meeting menu. If things go blurry, you know that your PC can do the business. If not, maybe it’s time for an upgrade if you think that blurring is a big business feature that justifies the expenditure.
To turn background blur off, select the Don’t blur background option from the […] meeting menu.
Background Blur in Teams for iOS
Updated: April 2020
Originally, background blur only worked in the Teams desktop client. It’s not available in the browser client. This month, Microsoft is releasing background blur for the Teams mobile client for iOS. This feature has appeared on my iPhone. You can join a meeting with blur enabled (Figure 1) or enable blurring during the meeting from the call menu. Note the small blur icon in the upper left-hand corner which controls turning blurring on or off.
Blur the Meeting
Blurring backgrounds is a nice feature, but sometimes I feel that it would be even better if I could blur some meeting attendees. But I’m grumpy at the best of times, so there’s no surprise there.
Read Chapter 16 of Office 365 for IT Pros for more information about Teams video meetings and the transition from Skype for Business Online, and Chapter 13 for more information about Teams in general.