Microsoft Clamps Down on Old Teams Desktop Clients

New Policy Enforces Three-Month Limit for Teams Desktop Client

On October 15, Microsoft published Office 365 Notification MC193099 to reveal that Teams is “governed by the Modern Lifecycle Policy” and that this means that users are expected to keep the Teams desktop client updated. The FAQ for Microsoft’s Modern Lifecycle Policy says that “Products… are supported as long as customers stay current…” and that to stay current “a customer must accept all servicing updates and apply them within a specific timeframe,”

Microsoft doesn’t give precise details as to when they will enforce the Modern Lifecycle Policy for Teams. They do say that the update will roll out in three phases and that ” If users in your organization will encounter these in-app notifications, we will be notifying you via Message Center. ” Quite what that means in practice remains to be seen.

Teams Updates Available Every Two Weeks

Teams is in a state of fast evolution and Microsoft usually releases new builds every two weeks. To stay current, you should apply the updates as they are released. Apart from updating to apply bug fixes, you’ll also gain access to new features. Teams makes it easy to apply updates as the client automatically checks for new software every few hours and will download and apply an update in the background once the system is idle. You might have to refresh (reload) the client to complete an update cycle, but the process is pretty easy and doesn’t normally cause problems.

To find out what version of Teams is running on a workstation, click the user avatar (photo) in the top bar and choose About and then Version from the menu (Figure 1).

How to check for Teams software updates
Figure 1: How to check for Teams software updates

The client lists the current version number and the date the last software update was applied to the client in a banner at the top of the screen (Figure 2)

Teams tells you what software version the desktop client runs
Figure 2: Teams tells you what software version the desktop client runs

Factors Preventing Updates

As the notification points out, it’s possible that some factors get in the way of the Teams auto-update routine. The most interesting scenario is when people use Teams exclusively for meetings and calls because the auto-update routine doesn’t run when these events happen (to ensure that background processing doesn’t interfere with smooth video and audio performance).

Three Months is the Maximum Age for the Teams Desktop Client

MC193099 clearly lays out that Microsoft considers three months to be the absolute maximum for a Teams desktop client to lag behind the current release. In fact, once a client is more than a month old, Teams begins to display a polite nagging banner to cheerfully inform the user that “Looks like you’re on an old version of Teams.” A link to download the latest update is included in the banner.

Things get more serious as the three-month deadline approaches. The banner begins a countdown to note how many days the user has to update to continue using the app. If the threshold is reached, Teams blocks access and flatly tells the user that they either have to update now or continue to use the browser client. Or, if a friendly IT administrator is available, maybe they can solve the problem by applying the update.

Microsoft gives a 28-day grace period to fresh installations of the desktop client that use old software, but the grace period is solely to allow Teams to auto-update in the background. Once the 28-day grace period elapses, Teams imposes the block.

Need help to understand how Teams works? Look no further than the Office 365 for IT Pros eBook. We update the eBook monthly to make sure that we include important information like the material discussed in this post.

3 Replies to “Microsoft Clamps Down on Old Teams Desktop Clients”

  1. Maybe they should have considered all this when they designed the installer and update mechanisms for teams. Per user installs, to appdata, to try and circumvent IT policies on software installation. Leading to more vulnerable PCs trying to relax security so it will update and install for the end user. Not to mention the issues that causes for VDI/RDS deployments. It should be installed per machine and updated through windows updates like defender and the rest of office apps. Ridiculous.

    1. This update process is broken. I have clients with the “latest” version showing up but still getting this message.
      Likewise, I have 5 different people on my team, each of us has checked for updates, the Teams client says we are up-to-date, yet we have different version numbers.

      why this isn’t handled like all our other Microsoft updates is mind boggling.

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