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Microsoft to release Teams for Apple silicon

Microsoft's native version of Teams for Apple silicon should help performance-sensitive Mac users, like programmers, graphic designers and video editors.

Microsoft will soon start rolling out a version of Teams tailored for Macs running Apple silicon to use less CPU power and improve the performance of the collaboration software.

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

Intel Mac users will not be left out, though. The new software uses Apple's universal binary format to run natively on Intel and Apple silicon computers.

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

Workers and companies have increasingly adopted Macs in recent years. Almost a quarter of U.S. enterprise computers were Macs in 2021, up from 17% in 2019, according to research firm IDC.

Many workers want the option to use Macs. Of 1,163 U.S. workers surveyed this year by analysis company Creative Strategies, 60% wanted their companies to support Apple computers.

Microsoft Teams for Apple silicon
Microsoft will roll out a Teams desktop app made for Macs with Apple silicon.

Beyond their growing numbers, business Mac users are more likely to be more performance-sensitive than the typical office worker, said Tom Arbuthnot, founder of Teams training firm 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 taking up system resources.

"[Macs] are not cheap products, so [users] look for good performance," Arbuthnot said. "There's 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 drains, as they use a device's camera and microphone and burden the CPU with noise suppression and custom background features. Without a native app, Apple silicon machines had to rely on emulation to run Teams, adding to the strain.

"The whole beauty of the ARM stuff that Apple is doing is that it tends to be power efficient," O'Donnell said. "But you only get the most advantage from it ... if you [program] for it natively."

Apple users have been asking for a Teams app for Apple silicon for some time. A request for such an app in Microsoft's customer-feedback forum received 3,216 upvotes, with users complaining about the current version's high CPU usage and sluggishness. Several noted the long lag between the introduction of Apple silicon and Microsoft's updated app.

Apple began shifting from Intel processors to chips of its design two years ago, with the intent of eventually running all Macs on Apple silicon. Since then, the Intel-based computers in the company's lineup have winnowed to 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 covering unified communications and collaboration tools. He previously covered communities in the MetroWest region of Massachusetts for the Milford Daily News, Walpole Times, Sharon Advocate 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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