Teams Real-Time Presence Rolling Out

Fixes Problem of Knowing If Other Users are Available

Now that all the fuss and bother surrounding the retirement of Skype for Business Online has died down, we can return to normal business. A notification posted some time ago (June 20 in Office 365 message MC182674) tells us that “Teams Presence is now happening in real time meaning that when users’ presence is changing, other users can see this change right away.” Tracking and reporting user presence accurately is an essential element in the movement from Skype for Business Online to Teams.

The update is also in Office 365 Roadmap item 52395. Microsoft says that they will begin to roll-out the change across Office 365 in early July and aim to complete the process worldwide by the end of August. So far, the change seems to be effective.

Presence is a fundamental part of a chat or messaging application. Email works asynchronously in that you never depend on the recipient of a message being online and able to respond. Indeed, the distributed nature of email systems and the multiple protocols and clients used by email would make it impossible to know if a recipient was available, busy, or in a meeting.

Presence and Teams

The concept of presence is different for chat applications like Teams, Slack, and Skype for Business because users sign into a central service which then tracks their presence status over time and makes that presence status available to other users. A user’s presence can change through something they do (like join an online meeting) or be set explicitly by the user, as shown in Figure 1 (you can also type a command like /available or /away into the Teams command bar to set your presence).

Teams presence states
Figure 1: Teams presence states

The new version of MyAnalytics can book two-hour calendar slots for “focus time” to allow people to concentrate on specific tasks. When Teams sees these slots, it switches the user’s presence to “Do Not Disturb.” This setting suppresses notifications so that the client only flags urgent messages and those from priority contacts.

What’s Changing

Teams has been criticized in the past because it has not updated user presence status as quickly or as accurately as it should. For instance, it can take several minutes before a state change made by a user becomes available to other users. This update aims to publish presence updates almost immediate (or real-time). In other words, as soon as someone changes their presence, other people will know about it.

Real-time presence changes will come as a pleasant surprise to those who have been exasperated at the slowness of presence updates in Teams. This especially affects people moving from Skype for Business Online because the presence changes in that app happen very smoothly.

Learn more about Teams presence and status updates in the Office 365 for IT Pros eBook.

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