Comparison of Teams for Linux and Windows in March 2021: Linux only allowing a 4 person view while Windows allows up to 49 participants to be viewed.

Microsoft Teams is the most downloaded software of 2020. It is now used by offices, schools, courtrooms, governments, and pretty much every other type of organization. As the lockdown was active in april, I had to download Teams to contact my colleagues, as many others had to. At my current assignment, it is the main communication tool for the company.

One feature Teams lacked at that time is to see more than four people on the same screen. A major shortcoming when compared to competition like zoom, especially in an environment where work events were now all online and could include tens even a hundred people.

“As quickly as it came, the feature was removed for Linux”

A few months later Teams users rejoiced: an update came that allowed everyone to view 9 people at the same time. I remember this feature being quickly available on both Linux and Windows. Then, about a week later, as quickly as it came, the feature was removed for Linux in another update. Though most of my Windows colleagues were able to see 9 participants in video calls, I was left with a view of only 4 people. For me and other Linux users, this was worse than before. Now we were left out. Though others could see something funny or nice a team mate is doing while muted, we saw nothing. Though others could see us, we couldn’t see them. At the time I thought there must have been a temporary bug. I patiently waited, as many others. See this Microsoft forum thread opened on september 2020.

Now it is march 2021, at least half a year after this feature was briefly introduced and then removed for Linux, while remaining active on Windows. Since then, a new view was introduced that allowed windows users to see up to 49 users at the same time, which is great for large team events. However, on Linux we are still stuck with only being able to view four other people.

Stuck on a backlog?

What happened? Microsoft employees in the forum thread I linked above say it’s being worked on and it’s on the backlog. However, one forum user noted that the backlog for Microsoft Teams and Linux is completely empty. Another forum user commented on how Teams is simply implemented as an Electron app, so it would be odd that some major Linux bug is keeping Microsoft from being able to re-implement this feature.

So what’s taking Microsoft so long? Is it really being diligently planned but difficult to return? Is it stuck on a backlog? Or is this a case of the Microsoft’s Embrace, Extend, Extinguish, I’ve heard about a lot in the past?

Linux users are still here

I didn’t write this blog post to demonize Microsoft, but I really hope to be able to create some noise and make Microsoft realize Linux users are still here. We’re using Azure and other Microsoft products, and we just want to be able to interact with our colleagues as they are able to interact with us. So Microsoft, please re-enable large gallery view in Linux!