Ask HN: Why is Microsoft Teams still so bad?
Seriously, with all the money and resources thrown at this company and this app, you'd think it'd be a little more stable, faster, and reliable. I am literally forced to use this app at work...
This works for them because it focuses product cycles on releasing what "matters" to the customer, but it ends up cutting craft and quality. This makes their products poor to use, but is also what drives revenue into their hands.
They don't really need to be the best or the fastest. They just have to have decent products that aren't the worst (I prefer Teams over Webex), and glom those products together into an affordable package.
For better or worse, Microsoft product suites are like the Olive Garden of the product world.
But I've noticed something else about computers and software. You can have two people with similar jobs, similar computers, similar software, etc. One person will have crashes and problems all the time, and the other person, smooth sailing. Nobody knows why. It doesn't matter whether they're IT experts or homemakers. In the words of a former office-mate: "I got a new computer, and spent two days setting it up exactly the way I want it, and yet it still crashes all the time." That person was a very sharp and productive programmer, yet he was swearing at his computer almost continually.
If it was just chat, it would probably by much less of a bloated mess of crap. The problem is that MS never makes just a simple tool anymore. They want it to hook into every other MS platform and product line and before you know it, the new product is slow and bloated again...
Exactly. You are not the customer. Your IT admin is. And they have to convince your security team while managing spend. Why wouldn’t they pick the “free” option that your company has already approved for deployment?
The things you're asking it to do seem normal, but each of those things is a different device with a different context. It's not surprising to me that it's hard to switch contexts.
I regularly start meetings on my home WiFi and then get in a vehicle and switch to cellular data. I've only have had short interruptions, which is MUCH better than most tools I've used.
Then Microsoft came out with Communicator, renamed it to Lync, which was a corporate messenger/meeting software. It used its own server, that could federate outside. It worked very well. They added LiveMeeting as a separate app for meetings, built on the same protocols. Our company used it with the "roundtable" camera from 2008, and it all worked amazingly well. We had meetings with people joining in from home and other offices over the internet using inexpensive webcams, 15 years ago.
Then they bought Skype and it went downhill from there. I don't know what happened, but they took a lot of time integrating technologies from Skype (peer-to-peer) with their own tech (which was more telecom/server based) and tried competing with ever-changing perceived competitors by copying parts of their features and UI, without ever making any feature really good. They integrated everything into a single program, Skype for Business, now renamed Teams, and made it bloated and obnoxious. Just try to get it to not start at login... It's like MSN all over again.
I think the Communicator/LiveMeeting software combo they had 15 years ago would still (conceptually) do pretty well as messenger/meeting software now, when modernized. It was much less intrusive and behaved like nice software that you actually wanted to use.
The search is frustrating (find a result but can't jump back to the full context?) and the UI is laggy on my laptop. The call/video features work as good as anything else I've used in the past.
You can’t link to conversations. This means if you want to add context to a Jira ticket or in a code comment, you can’t easily do so.
The UI between a Teams channel and a chat with multiple people is not consistent. Direct chats:
- do not have the ability to thread; so you end up with quotes all over the place and interleaved conversations.
- don’t support ``` for code blocks. Channel chats do. Why? I have no clue.
Notifications in channels are easy to miss
It’s really easy to miss notifications from channels unless you get messaged directly about it.
The emojis are bad
They aren’t customizable, but even the ones that are available are not great.
Compared to Slack
Teams lacks these features that I find useful in Slack:
- Don’t have time to address something immediately and don’t want to forget about it? Right click → Remind me later.
- Instead of struggling to communicate a screen location, draw on the screen when a co-worker is sharing their display. Ok, Teams introduced this recently. But the first time I tried it, I ended up stuck in annotation mode and had to quit Teams to be able to interact with my applications…
- Integration with Jira for automatic linking to mentioned issues by Jira Issue Key, e.g., PROJ-123. I think this one is just a limitation because my company hasn't added the integration.
- Notifications when when activity occurs in Bitbucket or Jira. Ditto.
The hold music sucks
The music played when alone on a call sucks. I suppose this is more subjective than the rest…
1) It's built on top of Sharepoint ... somehow.
2) It is a "Me, too" product without any kind of compelling vision, which usually leads to a mentality of "survey existing competitors in that 'space' and nab their features."
3) Because it is free, they feel the need to push it everywhere, even if isn't appropriate for most people. Go to your File Explorer and stare at that "3D Objects" Folder, marvel at the concept that so many people would have 3D printers that of COURSE you are going to need a 3D objects folder, the same way you have one for Music. Wait...
- Why two windows when you are in a meeting? The second window is sometimes hard to find intuitively.
- Why, when opening an attachment, is the user locked out of chat? Again, with many windows open, the preview can look and function like whatever app is native to the previewed file.
- is there a way to disable camera previews when sharing screen? The two together take up way too much interface. If there is a way, I should not have to search for it.
- Upload a file to chat and sending that file are two separate actions. Why? I can’t count the number of times I have to remind students to press the send button after upload.
It is a badly coded mess of spaghetti code, written with an ancient framework (AngularJS, currently running version 1.5.15), then ported to different platforms with Electron.
Have a look at the source code in your browser, it is not obfuscated in any way.
Burn this wretched creature!
However, what Teams has done well is dethrone WebEx and other legacy stuff from really big companies during the pandemic/WFH era. As has been mentioned, many big companies already had huge Microsoft accounts (likely O365) so turning on Teams was easy. When WebEx fell over under load, users moved to Teams.
One feature that’s pretty cool is the real time closed captions and the ability to do text based searches for recorded meetings. But that’s not enough to make up for some of the most basic audio quality issues.
Edit: also this came up recently: https://www.bleepingcomputer.com/news/security/microsoft-tea...
Good ol' MS!
Teams on my smartphone crashes in the middle of calls. The only way to fix this is to reinstall from the App Store. And then hope it will stay stable for a while.
Also I’m paying a monthly subscription for this experience.
Pretty much the whole company is on Teams.
If Teams was as bad as this thread suggests we would have heard about it (I know this because company-wide we complain bitterly about the anti-malware cruft that gums up our machines daily)
So it seems to me that we either got very lucky with our rollout or this thread represents a very vocal minority of people that are experiencing issues
This is, IMHO, the answer to the question, "Why is Microsoft still so bad?"
What motivation is there to make it good.
- Windows Live Messenger
- Microsoft Office Communications
- Microsoft V-Chat
- Microsoft Lync
- Skype for Business (completely different piece of software than skype)
- Microsoft Classroom
- Microsoft Teams
(no guarantee of completeness)
Some of these did better than others, but in the end they all went down the drain. That makes me suspect that it's not the software itself, but some corporate requirements that Microsoft imposes on their chat programs, that's the root cause of the problems.
- Backtick formatting in a chat post only works after typing the closing backtick, deleting it, re-typing it
- Text copied from a conversation is polluted with names and time stamps. "I really want this feature" said nobody ever
- The mute/unmute button is hard to find, I don't think I've ever attended a Teams meeting without someone struggling with this. Teams should change its name to "You're on mute"
- Multiple windows, I never know which is the 'main' window, which is the meeting window, where are they, which has focus
- Too hard to know which chat you're replying to, who is in it
- Updates in chats are not consistently acknowledged, you have to change focus, and back again. Even then the "Activity" tab still shows unread items that I have read
- Random crashing
- Random communication freezes, everyone else is chatting, I don't see any updates nor notification of any problems until I restart the app
- "Reply" is sometimes in the chat context menu, sometimes not.
- Media handling is inconsistent, sometimes I can't paste photos, sometimes I can
- The size of the text chat column in a meeting cannot be changed and is very narrow, forcing you to find the same chat in the 'main' window
Bugs I encountered:
1. Opening the link to a scheduled meeting opens the browser (good), but then clicking the "open in teams" and confirming the external URL handler in the browser does... Nothing. Restarting teams fixes that. (Happens for my team mates as well).
2. I have a dedicated USB mic that's always on, while my speakers are on a different USB device that's not always on. I have to reconfigure the audio settings very often, which is especially annoying since I can't do that before answering a call. But changing the audio device works without error (unlike Discord on my private PC, which lets me select the newly connected USB device as output, but needs to be restarted to actually output audio to it).
That's about it. Of course memory and CPU usage are rather impressive. And afaik we don't use the phone (as in landline, not as in app) feature; at least I don't, so I can't comment on that.
I've to add: I tend to bash MS first and ask questions later. I'm unhappy I can't use Linux on both my work PCs. But if I'm honest, teams works pretty well for us.
Teams binds to the previous account, so if you want to login to another account (say, if you're both a student and have a job) you have to log back in to the last account, totp and all, before you can logout and log back in to the account you want. There are no back buttons.
Teams is shit. I use it because I have to, but its ridiculous how bad the UX is and its a shame, because I think microsoft can do better.
I've heard the interoperability with teams and office365 is phenomenal though. Multiple people editing the same document, while in a call presenting that document, security of the files all settled in the cloud with easy to use interfaces. It sounds great, I don't really use any of that. To me, teams will always be a crappy voip tool.
Or another way to look at it is that the real customers for Teams are IT departments. It makes their lives easier because they don't have to do anything and it meets all the compliance requirements they are supposed to enforce.
Which in turn reflects that the real customers of IT are regulators and auditors. Nobody with decision making power actually cares whether any of the software in use in enterprises works well or not.
I have no idea what the problem is here. It works perfectly fine in one situation, and not at all in the other. Both Windows machines.
It's the same with other Microsoft products. Like someone else said, it doesn't matter how bad they are, money streams are basically guaranteed.
It's weird how their software almost feels like shareware or debian packages lurking in the repos unchanged for 10 years, just with ads and unresponsive UI.
Students and teachers really have no interest in being informed on the bottom of the screen that it's currently raining (we have actual windows for that), nor do we care that Ethereum's Ether fell by 10% in value this day.
Such things make no sense in an educational setting. Moreover even browsing the web when the teacher wants to show us some JS animation on a website (you know, such website that doesn't get updated, yet works, it's path starts with a tilde, and is only served via plaintext http) is uncomfortable, as Edge browser starts up with a screen filled with ads and random news articles about the war in Ukraine or political situation in the US.
I went quite off course, but Teams is no different. As soon as the teacher logs in to the computer, Teams is starting to launch. Why? It would be somewhat okay if it just launched in the background, but no, after 20 seconds a Teams window opens, wastes 5 seconds of lecture time, because it doesn't immediately have the Close button drawn.
Maybe theese are all just issues our IT team could solve, but given the immense amount of money siphoned into MS both by the school and the country's educational ministry, some reasonable defaults could be expected.
Interestingly teams usage seems to be still rising post-pandemic, something competitors are not seeing (and competitors include its own Skype product), teams even managed to surpass Slack in third part plugin support. So i'm not really buying this thread as repsentative, but it more function of the extremly high usage whcih is suprising on a forum which is heavily Mac/Linux oriented.
Having said that, in the last year or so I noticed Teams is more stable and provides a better user experience. Or, perhaps, it's just me being succesful at lowering my original expectations.
My only beef is voice communication latency. It is definitely several hundred milliseconds - far worse than using a phone. This leads to very unnatural CB-radio type conversations (you almost need to say "over" when you are finished talking).
The first was that Teams is Skype and Sharepoint mashed together with duct tape. When you'd ask for improved UX, it would all fall to "Ah yes, the Sharepoint team would have to do X so the other team can do Y. They aren't built like that, though, so you cannot have it". Teams is not one product and will never feel that way.
The second was scarier. I was trying to encourage communities of practice and having open communication by default, with some private rooms when needed. Like in Slack, you have multiple channels rather than disappearing into your own Team. Promoting openness was anathema to their Product people "Why would you want people to see what you say? Privacy is the default". I got the impression MS internally is not a safe space to speak, and Teams has that same cultural baggage.
When Teams first arrived, I was startled at how good it was. Great UI, good telephony and just did what it was meant to do. It worked well, and did what it said on the tin.
I've watched it turn to shit over the last two years. Every update made it slower, buggier and more annoying. Surreptitious updates made me miss meetings as the background service on Android was stopped and never restarted after the update.
What was once a pleasant surprise is now a horrific buggy PoS. Kill it with fire.