Electron for Teams
News has been breaking over the last day or so that Microsoft came to a decision to cancel their work on a Windows S client for Teams. Office 365 tenants who use the client have now received confirmation of the imminent demise of the client in a Message Center update. The client is still available (as I write) in the Windows Store, but it will be retired on November 29, 2018. After that time, the client will be unable to connect to the Teams services.
The S client was a preview version intended to address the need to have a Teams client available for Windows S devices. Instead of the Electron framework used by the Teams desktop and browser clients, the Windows S client is a Hybrid Web App (a variant of a Progression Web App, or PWA).
Electron is developed and maintained by GitHub, but there’s no indication that Microsoft’s recent purchase of GitHub tipped the balance towards refocusing on Electron for the development of Teams desktop and browser clients. Instead, it’s probably a reflection of the need to balance a finite number of development resources on the most popular clients (ones that people actually use).
The mobile versions of Teams use platform-specific technology for the iOS and Android clients.
Early Promise Not Realized
Initially, the Windows S client could run on both Windows S and the full version of Windows 10 (this capability was later blocked). I ran the client for a few months and found that it was a good way to access Teams in another tenant while I was working in my tenant. Unfortunately, the client was buggy, less performant than the full client, and didn’t support new features as they were rolled out by the Teams development group. Over time, the S client fell further and further behind, so the writing was on the wall for a while.
Microsoft recommends the Teams browser client to Windows S users. Given that the browser and desktop clients share the same base, this makes sense as it means that the same functionality is available in both.
We cover the Teams clients in Chapter 13 of the Office 365 for IT Pros eBook. Apart from mentioning that the Windows S client exists, we never gave it much space – thankfully! The other clients do get full coverage.