Teams Files App Gets an Overhaul

New Teams Files App Part of Overall Refresh of Teams Client UI

By now, just about everyone in the Microsoft 365 technical community knows that a new version of the Teams desktop and browser client is on its way. What’s not so obvious is that Microsoft is making parts of the new UI available for the original client. At the Ignite 2022 conference, Microsoft made a host of commitments about upgrades for Teams, one of which was a new “reimagined” channels experience. Another change is a refreshed Files app. According to the Microsoft 365 roadmap, both changes should come in April 2023.

New Teams Channel Experience

Microsoft says that the new channels experience includes:

  • Moving the message compose box to the top of the page. Microsoft has tweaked the message compose box since launching Teams in 2016 but always left it at the bottom of the list of posts.
  • Listing recent posts in descending date order under the message compose box. This highlights the newest conversations in the channel.
  • Instead of always using a list of conversations, users can switch to a conversation view where only the messages in the thread are visible. They can also pop out a conversation to a separate window (or pop several conversations out into individual windows if they want).
  • Inclusion of new types of post to join regular conversations and announcements. Microsoft specifically called out a video clip kind of post, which might be similar to the way Storyline video clips work.

Five months later, the new channels experience is still unavailable. However, Microsoft 365 roadmap item 91683 says that roll-out should begin next month.

New Teams Files App

Message center notification MC528955 (March 16, Microsoft 365 roadmap item 97677) announces that the preview roll-out of the new Files app will complete by the end of the month with availability for standard release tenants in April. GCC and DoD tenants receive the new app in May and June respectively.

I’ve never been a fan of the Teams Files app (Figure 1). It always seemed to be a half-finished add-on to enable access to files stored in Teams (like those stored in SharePoint sites connected to teams), the Downloads folder, and other cloud storage systems like Box and ShareFile. My personal working preference centered around Windows Explorer and the browser interfaces for SharePoint Online and OneDrive for Business, so I never saw the need to use the Files app.

The old version of the Teams Files app
Figure 1: The old version of the Teams Files app

The most notable change to the Files app is the Home option to access recent files (Figure 2). This replaces the Recent option in the earlier version and is consistent with the usage in the OneDrive for Business interface, as is the My Files and Shared options (show all files shared by you or with you across Microsoft 365). The Downloads folder is listed as locating files downloaded from Teams to your computer. The folder this points to is the regular Downloads folder but when you view its contents, the files shown are those explicitly downloaded from Teams.

The new version of the Teams Files app
Figure 2: The new version of the Teams Files app

The location for each file is shown underneath and is clickable. It’s a nice way to move directly to the location holding the file to work with it there. In addition, the quick access option lists recent teams that you’ve used together with the opportunity to pin selected teams to the list so that they’re not removed when you use another team.

Coming Soon to Teams Near You

There’s nothing you need to do to enable the new Teams Files app. Microsoft will deploy the software automatically during client refreshes.

The argument for including something like the Files app in Teams is that having access to your files through Teams avoids the context-switch necessary to move to Windows Explorer or a browser. Personally, I’ve never had any issue in switching between interfaces, but I can see that some might find it easier to have everything together.

Overall, the new Files app is a nice overhaul that probably won’t make a huge difference. I think that the new channels UI is a more important improvement. We’ll just have to be a little more patient and wait for it to arrive.

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2 Replies to “Teams Files App Gets an Overhaul”

  1. I hate the change. It just appeared on my Teams yesterday. Before I could EVERY file I had access to as it changed in real time. That function is completely gone and now I can only see the files within a specific folder. The “Home” section are only files I create… This change is insane and destroys the functionality for me completely. I am screaming into the void?

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