Teams Town Hall Replaces Live Events

Final Transition for Live Events to Teams Town Hall

Several years ago, Office 365 supported live events organized through a common platform shared by Stream, Yammer, and Teams. Stream Classic is on its last legs and its ability to host live events ceased on January 31, 2024. Yammer became Viva Engage and adopted Teams Live Events. On September 28, Microsoft announced the end for Live Events and its replacement by Teams Town Hall as the sole method for organizing large virtual internal events within Microsoft 365 (external events use Teams webinars).

Commercial tenants can start to use Town Hall from October 5, 2023 and Teams Live Events will finally retire on September 30, 2024. Meeting recordings will be available until December 31, 2024. Microsoft hasn’t yet given dates for the introduction of Town Hall or retirement of Live Events in the GCC, GCC-High, DoD, and China clouds.

The evolution is entirely logical. Teams has more than 300 million monthly active users. These folks are very comfortable with the Teams meeting experience (well, if not comfortable, very familiar). Microsoft already extended the Teams meeting platform to create webinars. Now it’s taking a similar approach to create Town Hall to bring all its online events onto a single online events platform.

Following the Webinars Approach for Teams Town Halls

Like Teams webinars, full functionality is not available at launch. Microsoft has plans to bring Town Hall to feature parity ahead of the retirement of Live Events in September 2024 (see the announcement post for details). Also like webinars, Microsoft will differentiate functionality based on licensing. For example, holders of Teams Premium licenses can organize events for up to 20,000 attendees while those with standard licenses are limited to 10,000. Premium features also include support for up to 50 concurrent events (limited to 15 with standard licenses), multi-lingual translation (live captions) and the ability to customize email invitations for events.

Scheduling a town hall meeting is very similar to scheduling a webinar. Anyone who knows how to create a Teams meeting can create a webinar or town hall event. The new meeting drop down menu in the Teams calendar lists both webinar and town hall among the available templates. According to the Microsoft descriptions, a webinar is an interactive event while a town hall is for a large audience. Figure 1 shows the creation of a new town hall event to announce the new Teams 2.1 client.

Setting up a Teams town hall event
Figure 1: Setting up a Teams town hall event

The organizer creates the new event and provides basic details such as the date and time, location, and description. They add people as presenters (including support for external presenters from the end of October 2023) and co-organizers and decide on attendee permissions (only invited people, anyone in the organization, or public), and set meeting options. The same kind of attendance reports are available as in a webinar. Unlike live events, there is no producer role because this functionality is included in the organizer role.

Publishing a Town Hall Event

When everything is ready, the organizer publishes the event to make it available to invitees and presenters. They can then circulate the link to the town hall event to make it available to potential attendees. This might be as simple as pasting the link into a channel announcement or including the link in an email. An example link for a town hall event looks like this:

Twelve Months a-Waiting

The twelve-months of notice given by Microsoft for the retirement of Teams live events is the norm. It will take a little time to phase out live events, possibly delaying until Microsoft fills in some missing functionality as they move towards feature parity. Most live events features are available in Town Hall now, so the best idea is to start using Town Hall events when possible. If you find something that doesn’t work, highlight the gap to Microsoft to make sure that it’s not overlooked in their march to functional parity.

So much change, all the time. It’s a challenge to stay abreast of all the updates Microsoft makes across Office 365. Subscribe to the Office 365 for IT Pros eBook to receive monthly insights into what happens, why it happens, and what new features and capabilities mean for your tenant.

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