How 5,000 frustrated customers forced Microsoft to make a big change | ZDNet
One of modern life’s great lessons is that not everyone uses technology in the same way.
You might think everyone uses the function keys on a laptop keyboard, but they really don’t.
You might think everyone opens their phone camera in the same way, but you really would be surprised.
And then there’s Microsoft Teams.
This is something I use regularly and think of in the same way I think of my TV.
I switch it on. It works. Then I switch it off.
During the meeting, I talk when required, switch my camera off when I need to scratch my nose or smooth my eyebrows, and think of it like any other video call.
I may be in the minority. It seems that many, many Teams users are infuriated, irritated, and aggravated by the fact that they see themselves during meetings.
It’s so curiously un-American. I thought we all wanted to live a permanent selfied life. I thought we were all focused first on ourselves, next on ourselves, and, only if time allows, considered someone else.
Yet, on a meander around Microsoft’s 365 Roadmap, I learned of Teams users’ pain. It seems that video of their own glorious faces, permanently visible in the bottom right-hand corner of their screen, is an enormous distraction.
Hark at this complaint on Microsoft’s community board: “The self view is always static in the bottom right-hand corner of a Teams meeting. This is often distracting and can also get in the way of the screenshare.”
One person’s view, you might think. But no. This has been upvoted more than 5,000 times.
Which had led Microsoft to do something about it. It’s introducing a Hide Your Own Video In Teams Meeting feature, freeing you from the burden of watching yourself in action.
It’s instructive to learn how many Teams users describe the experience of constantly staring at themselves. One word that emerges again and again is “exhausting.”
Sample from the Community Forum: “I’m both a female and new hire and seeing myself is very distracting and exhausting. As a result, I nearly always turn off my camera for all my meetings, even though this makes it even harder to connect with my colleagues, which is a disappointment as a new hire.”
Perhaps I’m excessively focused on getting meetings done and getting on with my torrid life, but I’ve never really noticed my own video at the bottom-right of the screen. I stare at whoever is speaking and try to look suitably fascinated.
Yet I see far-reaching hope in Microsoft addressing its customers’ exhaustion.
Firstly, because Microsoft doesn’t always listen to customer complaints. Witness the way it’s tried to stuff Edge into Windows users’ lives when they’re clearly happy with their own browsers.
And then there’s the hope that we’re not all as self-obsessed as we sometimes seem to profess.
Microsoft says the new feature should launch this month, so I hope many Teams users will discover a renewed focus during their meetings and not spend their Teams time thinking about quitting.