Teams Preview Indicator Tells Users What Software They Run
Updated: 16 March 2023
In November 2020, Microsoft launched a mechanism to make Teams features launched in public preview available to end users using a switch in client preferences. In July 2021, they connected the Office preview channel with Teams public preview through the AllowPublicPreview setting in the Teams update policy assigned to user accounts. The policy blocks access to Teams public preview functionality, allows users to switch between Teams normal and public preview, or automatically links Teams public preview with the Office Current Channel (preview), part of Microsoft 365 apps for enterprise.
Last Wednesday, Microsoft posted a blog to announce the introduction of a new client-side indicator for public preview. The announcement was followed up with message center notification MC284365 (September 10).
Update: On March 15, 2023, Microsoft announced that the old P indicator is now EA. I have no idea why they made this change. According to my sources, EA means “Early Access.” Quite how this is an improvement over P for Preview is for the reader to debate.
Look, My Teams Avatar Has EA
Effective immediately, the presence of an EA superimposed on the upper right of the user profile photo (avatar) in the menu bar of the Teams desktop client is a marker showing that the client runs the public preview version of the Teams client (Figure 1) instead of the generally available software. The idea is that the Teams preview indicator helps both users and support personnel know what version of the Teams client is in use. It is a simple visual clue that prevents endless discussions about when the client was set up and how it is configured.
Using visual indicators like this is common within the Teams development rings. For instance, if you connect to the Microsoft tenant, Teams displays an MS indictor to show that it’s connected to the mother ship, while TAP (or BETA) means that the client is running software issued through Microsoft’s Technology Adoption Program. Other Teams clients have different arrangements for running beta software. For instance, the Teams iOS client has a beta version available through Apple’s TestFlight program.
Of course, if you don’t tell users what the big EA means, they won’t know whether it’s good or bad for Teams to display it. Some user communications might be called for here!
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