Five years ago, today – March 14, 2017 – marked an exciting milestone for our customers, partners, and employees with the general availability of Microsoft Teams. We started with a unique point-of-view learning from Microsoft’s experience building communication and collaboration tools and from customer feedback on our products and those across the industry. Brian MacDonald and a small, passionate team started with an internal hackathon project and created a new application building on cloud services across Microsoft. As the project evolved to where groups could use it all day long for their work, the team iterated quickly based on feedback – first from inside Microsoft and then with customers and partners in 2016. Every hour around the world data and insights from customers of all sizes flowed into the product development team – all using channels, meetings, and documents in Teams of course – to help us drive to make the product better. And still does to this day. Teams transformed how we work to help you transform how you work.
Even in the first few months after release, it was clear the unique combination of async and sync collaboration in a single product was resonating. Over twenty million people used Microsoft Teams daily in the first two years, which was unprecedented for business software at the time. I was excited about Brian’s vision and partnered with him and the Teams leaders closely during this intense start-up phase. We worked to blend communications and content collaboration more seamlessly than ever before. We exposed an application model for partners to build workflows and solutions where users were spending time to simplify business processes. We embraced the community who had come with us to the cloud in Microsoft 365 as Teams became the hero application connecting the Microsoft Cloud. When Brian announced his retirement in January 2020, I was flattered to take on leadership for Microsoft Teams and evolve the communications and content management capabilities in Teams + SharePoint together into an even better platform for work. The Teams leadership has scaled well, and Brian continues to be a source of numerous great product ideas.
In March 2020, we all faced the crisis of a global pandemic. Across Microsoft, we were humbled by the challenges and uncertainty. We moved as fast – scaling to millions of cores from Azure to support the Teams services, adding dozens of features to improve our meetings experiences, and iterating with numerous stakeholders on our guidance for remote work. In the first three months after COVID-19, the Teams product team met with over 900 customers to hear their experiences and feedback. The team worked tirelessly on security, reliability, scalability, performance, and functionality. It has been a privilege in an unexpected time for the world to deliver a solution that would help schools, hospitals, governments, businesses, and more continue their mission at a vital time. The work customers did to support their colleagues and organizations and our product team did to support them inspires me to be curious, learn, and make the experience even better every day. During this time, Microsoft Teams grew 10X and we recently announced we have reached 270 million monthly active users. Consistent with Microsoft’s mission to empower every person and organization on the planet, we recently introduced tailored versions of Microsoft Teams for personal use with Windows 11 and for very small businesses with Teams Essentials. Thank you for the bet you made on us during this critical period. We don’t take it for granted. I am incredibly excited about the pipeline we have for Microsoft Teams – from simplicity and performance improvements to new ways to work across organizations with Teams Connect to innovative new experience built on Teams like Microsoft Viva and Microsoft Mesh and much more. Stay tuned. The best is yet to come.
I want to close with a special thank you and call-to-action to our community – spanning customers, partners, and MVPs. You have inspired us to do our best work. Your feedback shapes our priorities – from meeting layouts to platform features to admin controls and more – in every part and every level of the Microsoft Teams organization. So today, as we celebrate the 5th anniversary of the general availability of Microsoft Teams, we want to pause and say, “Thank you!”. You have bet your productivity, organizations, and careers on us – and we’re humbled by this. Together, as I’ve said many times before, you network and learn from each other as we strive to make Microsoft 365 the best community in technology. Thank you for betting on us and your continued feedback and support of each other.
Learn more about how Microsoft Teams transformed our employee experience via this Inside Track post from Keshav Puttaswamy and Claire Sisson from Microsoft Digital.