Why can’t I see all the features in Microsoft Teams?

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Microsoft regularly promotes new or updated features in Teams, but there’s no sign of them for many people – there’s two different reasons.

Teams features might not be available because it’s a free account (‘Teams Free’) or the user has Guest access to a paid Teams channel.

All Microsoft announcements are very carefully worded and that’s especially true for anything about Teams.

Teams vs Teams Free

Microsoft makes a distinction between ‘Teams’ and ‘Teams Free’. 

Unless a feature specifically says ‘Teams Free’, likely only paid accounts will get that option.

Paid accounts means Microsoft 365 plans for companies, organizations or education.  Not consumer plans like Microsoft 365 Family or Personal who only get ‘Teams free’.

Even then, there might be limitations.  Some Microsoft 365 features have fine print limiting access to certain types of plans like high-end Enterprise or Education accounts.

Differences between Teams and Teams Free

Microsoft has a page for Differences between Teams and Teams Free.

The first entry is a little strange. Maximum Members for Teams Free reads:

Prior to <date>: 300 per org

After <date>: 500,000 per org

<date> looks like a placeholder that hasn’t been updated.

Based on this page, the 500,000 limit is correct, though only 100 people can be on a call/virtual meeting.

Teams for Home is essentially Teams free.

What’s missing from Teams Free?

According to Microsoft, these are the extras in paid Teams

  • Additional storage with plans starting at 1 TB of file storage per user.
  • Rich file collaboration in the Office desktop apps.
  • Additional app integrations.
  • Advanced IT controls.
  • Enterprise-level security and compliance.

The bland ‘Additional app integrations’ covers a lot of territory.

For regular Office users, “Rich file collaboration in the Office desktop apps” means less streamlined access to Word, Excel and PowerPoint documents.  They can be edited in the browser but not directly opened in the desktop apps. 

Limited Guest access

Guest access is another limitation that Microsoft doesn’t dwell on.

Paid Teams spaces can have Guest accounts.  That means someone can get into the Teams space without a paid account linked to that organization.  It’s intended for external contractors and others who work with an organization but aren’t directly employed.

Staff setup something in Teams but don’t always understand that what they can see isn’t always visible to others on the same channel.

Some channel tabs have to be explicitly made visible to Guests (Visitors).

Teams admin tip: make a guest account for your own use. That will let you see and test what guest users can see and do in Teams, compared to paid accounts.

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