Microsoft Moves Four Standard Features to Teams Premium

Defining What Teams Premium Covers

Teams Premium

Updated 20 January 2023

On October 12, 2022, Microsoft announced Teams Premium, an add-on license that Microsoft estimated would cost $10/user per month. Thirty-day test licenses are available for organizations to test the advanced meeting and security features that Microsoft hopes will make Teams Premium a popular choice, especially in enterprise tenants. Microsoft emphasizes that Teams Premium covers ground that would otherwise need a suite of add-ins from multiple software vendors. That, and the close integration with standard Teams functionality is their trump card.

Confusingly, Microsoft continues to offer the Teams Advanced Communications license, something that might go away when Teams Premium becomes generally available in February 2023. That date is predicted and should be taken with a fairly hefty dose of salt.

Additional Clarity About Features Moving to Teams Premium

On January 14, Microsoft updated Microsoft 365 notification MC445406 (the original announcement for Teams Premium) “to provide additional clarity.” In this instance, Microsoft confirms that some features previously covered by the Teams standard license will move to Teams Premium.

Microsoft will allow a grace period for each feature to allow users with Teams standard licenses to wean themselves off the functionality. Once the grace period expires, holders of Teams standard licenses won’t be able to access the premium features.

The features moving to Teams Premium are:

  • Live translation of captions during Teams meetings. This feature allows users to opt to see captions generated for voice communications during meetings in their preferred language. The grace period is 60 days.
  • Custom together mode scenes. A scene is the backdrop that meeting participants appear on during Teams meetings when using together mode. Standard users can choose from a set of scenes created by Microsoft. Those with premium licenses can use custom scenes created with the Teams scene studio. For instance, you could create a custom scene based on a well-known physical meeting space like an conference room or atrium. The grace period is 30 days. Up to now, the use of custom together mode spaces required the Teams advanced communication license, so this move shouldn’t affect holders of Teams standard licenses.
  • Timeline markers in the recordings of Teams meetings. These markers indicate when participants join and leave a meeting. The grace period is 30 days.
  • Virtual appointments is like the Bookings app for Outlook and allows users to schedule and manage structured appointments using online Teams meetings. Although the Virtual appointments feature remains available for standard users, its premium features such as SMS notifications to let people know when an appointment is scheduled, analytics in the Teams admin center, and the ability to view queued appointments require the new license.

Of this set, live translation of captions gets the longest grace period, probably because it’s a feature that makes matters discussed in meetings more accessible to users. As such, its new status might therefore be deemed more sensitive. There’s possibly some truth in this feeling. Whether regaining the ability to use live translation of captions or any of the moved features would make anyone want to pay for Teams Premium remains to be seen. I somehow doubt it, which then begs the question of why Microsoft decided to elevate these features to premium status.

The Question of Licensing

Another subject deserving more clarification is the exact licensing requirement for each of the premium features. In some instances, it seems like per-user licensing is necessary, as when individual users want to choose separate languages for live captions. In others, it’s down to people doing specific tasks, such as those who organize advanced webinars (Teams webinar events with features such as waiting lists). Microsoft hasn’t released these details yet.

The Case for Premium

There’s a perfectly valid case for Microsoft to offer Teams Premium licensing for specific features. Some organizations need functionality like the ability to watermark meetings, meeting templates, and using sensitivity labels to protect meeting content. Others do not. Someone has to pay for the engineering effort needed to build and support the desired functionality, and that payment flows through premium licenses. I’ve no issue with this approach.

Likewise, I have no issue with Microsoft demanding premium licenses for new features. However, it does seem somewhat unfair to change the rules of the game by moving features from the standard license to premium status. I guess the pressure to generate as much revenue as possible from Microsoft 365 users is growing.

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11 Replies to “Microsoft Moves Four Standard Features to Teams Premium”

  1. Moving Live Translations/Captions to be a paid feature is disgusting. I’m incredibly disappointed in this particular move.

    1. Taking away any features that we already had with our extremely expensive (and now more costly) E5 license is going to make it just that much more difficult to justify. I really wish Microsoft had not decided to do this, it just gives Zoom and Webex more ammo.

  2. I already pay a LOT for microsoft licensing M365 E5, but I don’t see my business paying an additional $120 a year per user. I wonder if it just means these features will wither and die. I think microsoft really needs to add as many additional features as possible to compete against zoom. I’m concerned this approach will make Zoom very happy.

    1. Many won’t need the premium features and will get by quite happily with Teams standard. The features included in Teams premium are targeted at large enterprises with a special focus on security…

  3. To be clear, the Virtual Appointments feature itself is not going to be a Teams Premium feature. Instead, the SMS notifications, Organizational analytics in Admin Center, and Scheduled queue view compoments of Virtual Appointments are going to be Teams Premium features. MC445406 is poorly written and implies the entire feature is going to be Teams Premium. I confirmed that this just now with a Microsoft Teams Product Manager. (I’m happy to share her name with you, offline.)

    1. I’ll be taking a look very soon. My anticipation is that the content will be stored in the OneDrive account of the meeting organizer and be protected with a sensitivity label. But I haven’t looked yet.

  4. Naturally. They’ve already admitted that Teams growth has leveled off and so now it’s time to start moving standard features to a higher tier to increase revenue. I’m just surprised they didn’t try and hide this behind a new product/feature as they’ve done in the past; where they call it something else (maybe even change it a little) and make it a part of a higher tier and thus more costly license.

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