Microsoft Teams: no third-party clients and poor user experience when working with multiple organizations

December 25, 2022 – Samuli Seppänen

It's time for a brief rant about Microsoft Teams. Before we start I'll state that Teams is probably an ok platform for collaboration when you work for just one organization. But when you need to work with multiple organizations, each with their own Teams, you immediately run into a world of hurt. There are two reasons:

  • There are no third-party clients or plugins for Teams
  • Official Teams web and desktop clients force you to actually switch workspaces (or organizations) if you want to participate in discussions

In our case when we want to talk to a customer, we have to launch Teams and select that customer's workspace. Then, if we want to talk to another customer, we have to switch to another workspace. In other words, we don't have any way to keep track of all the discussions in a single Teams client. Nor can we use a third-party, multi-protocol IM application like Pidgin or Adium to consolidate most of our customer chats into one application using (more) open protocols such as Slack, IRC and XMPP. We do use the Signal client also, but at least that's open source and has a decent interface. So, the only reasonable option seems to be to suggest some other system (e.g. Signal or Slack) instead.

Now, this is all just a symptom of the instant messenger hell we're living in, Teams just being one of the worst offenders now, usability-vise. Several commercial entities (Facebook Messenger, Whatsup, Teams, etc) are trying to catch as much market share as possible and their customers - in particular power users - pay the price as crappy user experience and a gazillion of IM clients. In the end all of those commercial entities will fail in gaining market leadership, because users are already stuck with multiple different IM systems and can't migrate to any one in unison.

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