Many of us are used to using Microsoft Teams on Microsoft Windows by now and are coming to understand its similarities and differences with other communication and collaboration platforms. However, you may not be aware of two important distinctions between the way Teams works and how other software works when it comes to deployment and maintenance:
- Microsoft Teams installs differently1.
- Microsoft Teams updates differently1.
(1 …on Windows. Microsoft Teams behaves just like other applications, for the most part, on macOS and Linux.)
Let’s take a look at each of these in a bit more detail…
Microsoft Teams installs differently
Microsoft Teams is a “user” application rather than a “system” application. Like apps installed from the Microsoft Store and other apps like web browsers and web conferencing clients, Microsoft Teams installs itself into the “C:\Users\<username>\AppData\Local\” directory rather than a “Program Files*” directory. No special rights are required to install, update, or uninstall these applications and only the user who installed them can use them.
While many non-Store-based user applications (like web browsers and web conferencing clients) have “Enterprise” versions that can be installed for all users of a computer as a “system” application, Teams does not. The MSI files that Microsoft makes available to centrally deploy Teams to multiple computers does not install the software…it installs an installer that runs for each user that logs on afterwards. This means that, if the MSI is installed by (or for) a user while they are logged in, the user will have to log out and log back in again to actually have the Teams software installed and usable. While this particular scenario is not particularly likely–the software is usually already installed by IT before the user first logs in–it is something to be aware of and is the reason for the second difference…
Microsoft Teams updates differently
As a user application, updating the Teams software becomes the responsibility of the user. As stated in Microsoft’s official documentation, “Teams doesn’t give admins the ability to deploy updates through any delivery mechanism.” For Store-based applications, the Microsoft Store handles these updates. For other user apps with enterprise installers, a system application replaces the user application and can be centrally managed like most other system applications.
For Microsoft Teams, according to the aforementioned documentation, “the desktop client updates itself automatically. Teams checks for updates every few hours behind the scenes, downloads it, and then waits for the computer to be idle before silently installing the update.” However, this process only updates the Teams application itself and not the installer that runs at user logon. With Microsoft typically updating the Teams software every month, this means that any user logging in for the first time to a computer that had the Teams MSI installer deployed more than a month ago will almost certainly have to update the software. It also means that any user logging in for the first time to a computer that received a Teams MSI installer that was packaged more than a month ago will also almost certainly have to update the software.
Additionally, the Teams self-update process only runs for the user that’s logged in. With Teams configured to auto-run at logon by default, if a user logs into a computer that they’ve not used in some time (or ever before in the case of a shared computer), they will likely need to update the Teams software. Similarly, if an IT Admin logs into a user’s computer, they will likely need to update the Teams software.
Microsoft Teams: expect to see updates
It’s unlikely that the Microsoft Teams MSI installer will be treated any differently in Duke’s endpoint management environment than other operating systems and applications. Installers will be periodically updated, but not with every update, expecting the existing software update mechanisms to do their job. But, Microsoft Teams on Windows is…different. Even if we were to update the Teams MSI installer deployments on a monthly basis, depending on when it was deployed, you’d still likely see Teams needing updates on that first launch.
It’s that or have the user install it themselves from the Microsoft Store. 😉