Microsoft Launches Expanded Reactions for Teams

Choose from Over 800 Emojis to Express Emotions

The folks who weren’t impressed (and there were many) when Microsoft introduced the fluent-based emojis in Teams are likely to be even less impressed by the news in Microsoft 365 notification MC428506 (9 September) about Teams expanded reactions. Instead of being limited to a small set of reactions for chats and channel messages, users can post any emoji from the available set. Microsoft calls this “Expanded reactions in Teams” and it’s Microsoft 365 roadmap item 88080.

Expanded reactions are available on Teams desktop (Windows and Mac – no mention of Linux), and the browser and mobile clients. Microsoft expects the feature to be available for preview in mid-September 2022 with roll-out to general availability in mid-October.

Do You Need Extra Reactions?

There are over 800 emojis in the available set. I’m not sure why Microsoft thinks it a good idea to let people choose from such a wide selection. After all, we’ve survived with the simple set of Laugh, Like (Thumbs-Up), Angry, Sad, Surprised, and Heart for years, so what’s driving the expansion?

When the feature appears in a client, users who react to chats and messages in channel conversations will see a new set of options of Like, Heart, and Laugh and the all-important Emoji. Selecting Emoji opens a selection dialog to allow the user to browse and select from the full set (Figure 1).

Teams expanded reactions - lots of smiles
Figure 1: Teams expanded reactions – lots of smiles

Microsoft explains the reduction in the set of emojis shown for immediate choice by saying: “The reaction hover bar will now feature a reduced number of quick hover options to make space for an expanded reaction button. The reaction summary will also be moved from the top right of the message to the bottom of the message bubble to make space for the wide range of options that can now be added.” Find the emoji that most accurately reflects how you feel about the message you’re reacting to, and away you go.

The Etiquette Conundrum Posed by Teams Expanded Reactions

Those browsing the full set of emojis might experience the unique terror involved in making an inappropriate choice. Is one kind of smile kinder than another? If I choose a broad grin does it mean more to the message’s author? Will I offend someone if I use an unusual reaction? When is it appropriate to choose an object emoji like briefs? I can’t think of any message that I might react to that calls for me to post an emoji of underpants! It’s an etiquette nightmare for the unwary or those unused to communicate via symbols.

Expanded Reactions in Audit Records

As I noted earlier this month, Teams captures message reactions in audit records in the Office 365 audit log. The expanded reactions show up clearly in the audit data (Figure 2), even if some of the names need a little interpretation.

Teams expanded reactions captured in audit records
Figure 2: Teams expanded reactions captured in audit records

A Matter of Personal Choice

You’re not forced to use the expanded reactions. I suspect that many Teams users restrict their use of reactions to Like with perhaps an occasional break-out to express a Laugh or Heart. Those reactions are still in the “quick hover options” and users might never need to go near the expanded set. Those who like being creative can explore the 800+ emojis to find just the right means of expression for their reaction to a chat or channel message.

My fear is that the time necessary to make that choice will be longer than needed to type a few words in response, and that quite takes away from the usefulness of a reaction.

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4 Replies to “Microsoft Launches Expanded Reactions for Teams”

  1. They are making this like it was in Slack for years. It is not that bad. Personally, i would sometimes miss confusion or facepalm as a reaction and would have to post it as a reply instead.

  2. The best is the “pile of poo” reaction. What’s the worst that could happen with that? Other than HR departments the world over becoming a little busier!

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