User Voice Response Confirms 3×3 View By End of April
Update May 6: The 3 x 3 view is now available in production tenants. This doesn’t mean that it is yet available in all tenants as it takes time for major software changes to be deployed across every Office 365 datacenter region.
Microsoft has been under pressure to increase the number of video feeds shown in an online meeting from the current 2 x 2 format to get closer to the gallery format available in Zoom (which has its own troubles with security issues). On April 13, the Teams development group showed their determination to do better in a response to the User Voice request on the topic. The update says: that Microsoft will “start rolling out our first update to view nine participants simultaneously by the end of April. In parallel we are continuing work to increase this limit even further.”
The User Voice response was later confirmed in Office 365 message center notification MC209274. Microsoft added item 63341 to its roadmap on April 13 to document the new development.
How Many Feeds Will Teams Host?
Speculation has already started as to what kind of format Microsoft will head towards after they deliver 3 x 3 video feeds (for nine simultaneous participants – Figure 1). Some would like to see Teams replicate what Zoom does, but others have questioned if a large 49-participant (or larger) gallery view is needed, especially in corporate environments. The need is more pressing in classrooms, but even the largest class can probably be serviced by a 6 x 6 layout.
The argument against a large gallery view is that having so many feeds presented on a screen distracts from the focus of a meeting, which should be the presenter. The feeling is that the natural movement of participants will cause others to check out what they’re doing. Of course, the simple answer is to ask people to disable their video unless they wish to speak.
The situation is different in an education context. Teachers want to see how students react to a lesson. They also need to check for anyone who might be inattentive. That’s hard to do when Teams is restricted to showing four feeds from the last people who spoke.
Every participant feed added to a meeting increases the strain on the infrastructure to broadcast the meeting feed to participants. If someone’s feed uses a flaky or unreliable network connection, the potential exists that it will affect the feed delivered to other meeting participants. In other words, if you’re on a bad network, join with audio only and stay muted unless you need to speak.
Waiting for Change
The roll-out of the 3 x 3 view for Teams starts at the end of April, which means that most tenants should have the update in May. We’ll just have to wait and see how many video feeds will be visible in the future.
We keep an eye on developments related to Teams because we parse and analyze the news before deciding how to include it in the Office 365 for IT Pros eBook. It’s lots of work, but at least we know the book is always up-to-date.