Microsoft to release Teams for Apple silicon

Microsoft will soon begin rolling out a version of Teams adapted for Apple silicon-based Macs to use less CPU power and improve collaboration software performance.

Microsoft plans to release Teams for Apple’s purpose-built ARM processors in the coming months. Teams, initially programmed for Intel-based Macs, will perform better and be less taxing on system resources than the current version, Microsoft said this week.

However, Intel Mac users are not left out. The new software uses Apple’s universal binary format to run natively on Intel and Apple silicone computers.

Teams competitors Zoom and Cisco Webex already support Apple’s chips.

Workers and businesses have increasingly adopted Macs in recent years. According to research firm IDC, nearly a quarter of U.S. business computers in 2021 were Macs, up from 17% in 2019.

Many employees want the ability to use Macs. Of the 1,163 U.S. employees surveyed this year by analytics firm Creative Strategies, 60% wanted their company to support Apple computers.

Microsoft Teams for Apple Silicon
Microsoft will roll out a Teams desktop app made for Apple silicon-powered Macs.

Aside from their growing numbers, business Mac users are probably more performance sensitive than the typical office worker, says Tom Arbuthnot, founder of Teams training company Empowering.Cloud. Many Apple-based employees use their machines for processing-intensive tasks like image or video editing and don’t want a collaboration tool to take up system resources.

“[Macs] are not cheap products, so [users] look for good performance,” said Arbuthnot. “There are definitely comments from the Mac community that [Teams’] performance could be better, hence the pent-up demand for this [update].”

Microsoft needed to update Teams to improve performance, Technalysis Research analyst Bob O’Donnell said. Video conferencing apps are already system draining, as they use a device’s camera and microphone and load the CPU with noise cancellation and custom background features. Without a native app, Apple silicone machines had to rely on emulation to run Teams, adding to the burden.

“The great thing about the ARM stuff Apple does is that it’s generally energy efficient,” O’Donnell said. “But you only get the most benefit out of it… if you [program] naturally for that.”

Apple users have been asking for a Teams app for Apple silicon for some time now. A request for such an app on Microsoft’s customer feedback forum received 3,216 votes, with users complaining about the high CPU usage and slowness of the current version. Several noted the long delay between the introduction of Apple silicon and Microsoft’s updated app.

Apple started switching from Intel processors to chips of its design two years ago, with the intention of eventually running all Macs on Apple silicon. Since then, the Intel-based computers in the company’s lineup have won the Mac Pro and specific models of the Mac mini. This summer, Apple introduced laptops based on the second generation of its custom processors, the M2.

Mike Gleason is a reporter on unified communications and collaboration tools. He previously covered communities in Massachusetts’ MetroWest region for the Milford Daily News, Walpole Times, Sharon lawyer and Medfield Press. He has also worked for newspapers in central Massachusetts and southwestern Vermont and served as a local editor for: patch. He can be found on Twitter at @MGleason_TT.

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