Fluent Emojis Arrive in Microsoft Teams

Saturated Colors and New Designs – Windows Emojis Useful for Channel Naming Too

Last year, Microsoft refreshed the set of emojis designed for use in its applications, lauding the “bright, saturated colors and bold forms” available for more than 1,800 emojis. The new set is already available in Windows and OWA, with plans in place to bring the new emojis to Yammer and other places within Microsoft 365 during 2022. Of course, you don’t need an explicit insert emoji option to use the Windows emojis. In any editor and in most places where you can input characters, just press the Windows key and period and you should be able to browse the emoji set and insert whatever you like.

New Animated Emojis for Teams

Which brings me neatly to the latest Teams public preview feature: Fluent emojis (“a modern and delightful new version of the emojis we use every day” are available for use in Teams chat and channel conversations. The new emojis replace the set last refreshed in April 2021, which increased the number of available emojis to 800. Adding another thousand is an impressive graphical feat, and Microsoft says:

  • Emojis in chat and channels messaging will update to the new Fluent style, along with delightful animations for applicable emojis.
  • Reactions in chat, channels, and live meeting reactions will update to the new Fluent style.

Animations are the difference between the Windows emojis and those now available in Teams, which is why I guess some refer to 2D emojis (Windows) and 3D (Teams). With so many emojis to choose from (Figure 1), no doubt some conversations will now be conducted entirely through emojis (I’m not kidding).

Some of the many Teams emojis available for use in chats and channel conversations
Figure 1: Some of the many Teams emojis available for use in chats and channel conversations

Everyone will have their own favorite emoji. Mine is surely a candidate to become a new favorite to communicate a state of mind or opinion of a piece of work. The pile of poo emoji looks innocuous when inserted into a message (Figure 2), but the brown smelly material becomes animated when viewed by the recipient. It makes you think about the thought process necessary to come up with a suitable animation for such an object…

A nice way of letting people know how you feel
Figure 2: A nice way of letting people know how you feel

Not every emoji is animated, and some animations are very subtle (like the moving legs on the prawn emoji). You can see which emojis are animated by hovering over emojis when browsing the set in the picker.

The new emojis are available for Teams desktop, browser, and mobile clients, but user accounts must be enabled for Teams preview before they’ll be able to add the new emojis to chats and channel messages.

Using Emojis as Chat Reactions

According to MC296204 (updated February 8), people will soon be able to use the new emojis as reactions to chat messages. Microsoft 365 roadmap item 88080 says that users will be able to select any emoji as a reaction to a chat message (but not a channel conversation). The roadmap item lists review for April 2022 and general availability starting for standard release tenants in May 2022.

Update: According a May 26 update to MC296204, Microsoft is pausing plans for this update to make some changes.

Emojis in Channel Names

Another good use of emojis is to highlight important channels. Given that an individual team can have up to 200 regular channels and 30 private channels (with shared channels coming soon), there’s no doubt that it’s easy to overlook channels in a list, even when team owners pay attention to giving channels appropriate and helpful names.

Increasingly, I see people using emojis in channel names. Usually, the emoji is at the start of the name to make it more visible and catch the eye, but I’ve seen emojis placed at the end too. For instance, the channel for discussions about the current version of the Office 365 for IT Pros eBook has a jolly roger (skull and crossbones) emoji to display its important status (Figure 3).

An emoji added to a channel name helps convey the purpose of the channel
Figure 3: An emoji added to a channel name helps convey the purpose of the channel

You can’t use Teams emojis in channel names but the Windows emojis are available, so there’s no shortage of choice. In any case, if you use emojis in channel names, it’s best to put the emoji at the start of the channel name rather than the end to make sure that the selected highlight is always visible. As evident in Figure 4, channels highlighted in this manner stand out from other channels.

Teams emojis brighten up a channel list
Figure 4: Teams emojis brighten up a channel list

You can also include emojis in the display names of teams and Microsoft 365 groups, but maybe that’s going too far.

Ensuring SharePoint Online and Teams Agree

In the past, renaming a channel has wreaked havoc with the folder in the SharePoint document library associated with the channel. This month, Microsoft released the update titled Pairing naming convention between Teams channels and corresponding SharePoint folders (described in MC306666, December 18, Microsoft 365 roadmap item 72211).

Microsoft has been working on the issue for some time and originally planned to release the update last year. The fix makes sure that the SharePoint folder gets the same name following the rename of a regular channel. For private channels, both the site name and folder are updated. All of which means that you can include emojis in channel names without any qualms.


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16 Replies to “Fluent Emojis Arrive in Microsoft Teams”

  1. “In any case, if you use emojis in channel names, it’s best to put the emoji at the start of the channel name rather than the end to make sure that the selected highlight is always visible.” This is a good point that the emoji might be hidden if placed at the end, but in my experience an emoji at the beginning of the channel name affects the name of the channel-created folder. It also has an affect on the alphabetization of channels based on their names. Is that changing as well? I see your screenshot does not have channels in alphabetical order.

    1. That’s true. Adding an emoji to the start of a channel does affect sort order. Looking at the channel folders in SharePoint, those with emojis are sorted (alphabetically) first, followed by the channel folders that don’t have an emoji.

  2. This new emoji update is HORRIBLE!!!!!!!!!!!! Put it back the way it was. It’s too blurry to even recognize the what it is! Who’s bright idea was this????

  3. Microsoft is actually the real MVP, their emojis are so bad, people are switching back to expressing themselfs using the written word like in the old days.

  4. New emojis are very small and not very good quality, it’s hard to say what half of them represent. I think you should either switch back to old ones or improve the new ones.

  5. How do I sort my students’ “like” reactions alphabetically to my announcement post? They used to be sorted alphabetically and now they are sorted by the most recent student to “like” my message.

    1. I don’t know. Teams controls how its displays reactions to user messages. There isn’t a setting to allow users to dictate how the reactions appear.

  6. I was totally shocked this morning. The emojis have been changed over night. It is horrible how they look like. The seems to be created from somebody without glasses but needing glasses. Terrible colours, no contrast anymore. You can not really distinguish without reading the meaning. Please provide the possibility to switch back.!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  7. I absolutely dislike the new emojis! They look generic as if double exposed or very bad contrast. The normal smiley has bug eyes and the monkey looks like it came off of the 1980’s Donkey Kong game. Please switch them back!!!!!!

  8. New emojis looks creepy and awful to me. I don’t like them and would enjoy the freedom of switching back to old ones.
    Why they are pinky?

  9. In any editor and in most places where you can input characters, just press the Windows key and period and you should be able to browse the emoji set and insert whatever you like.

  10. The new emojis looks definitely ugly and not professional at all to me! How could Microsoft developer think that would be a good idea to make those the only option in a tool that is widely used as a communication platform for business purposes?! Once again, Microsoft make me think that the good old Skype is much better in style and functionalities.
    Microsoft: revert to the old emojis!

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