Microsoft building in the EU
Microsoft quietly bumped up the limit of Team members this week, from 999 to 2500 PHOTO: efes

Microsoft announced a significant upgrade to its Teams collaboration app this week, bumping up the number of people allowed in a single Team from 999 to 2500. 

The company indicated it might further increase this limit in the future.

A Quiet Increase to Teams' Limits

When Teams launched last November, people speculated the app was Microsoft's answer to Slack for Office 365. But with the original Team size limit of 999 people per team, Teams remained an attractive option for small-to-medium enterprises, but held limited appeal for larger organizations.

Since its release, one of the most frequently requested improvements from users was an increase to that limit.

Users got what they asked for this week with the announcement from Redmond, Wash.-based Microsoft on Oct. 18:

One of the interesting things about the announcement, was the lack of fanfare which accompanied the news.

Suphatra Rufo‏, program manager with Microsoft Teams, first publicized the increase on the Microsoft Teams ‘Uservoice’ notice board. She wrote, “Great news! Your team membership limit is now 2,500 people in any one team. These 2,500 limits include both guests and regular members in your team. Also, your channels per team limit is still 100.” Aside from a few comments on Twitter, the news went largely unnoticed.

Preparing to Replace Skype For Business

It's unlikely the timing was an accident. During its Microsoft Ignite conference in September, Microsoft announced Teams would replace Skype for Business as part of what it described as a new vision for intelligent communications.

In a blog explaining the strategy, Lori Wright, general manager for Microsoft Teams and Skype product marketing, wrote:

“Microsoft Teams is core to our vision for intelligent communications — bringing together conversations, meetings, files, Office apps and third-party integrations — to provide a single hub for teamwork in Office 365. Teams is now being used by over 125,000 organizations across the world in just six months since its launch. Its strong momentum has proven that teamwork is essential to the way work gets done today.”

It is also improving the meetings capabilities in Teams including the recently announced audio conferencing, which allows participants to join a Teams meeting by dialing a telephone number, as well as interoperability between Teams and Skype for Business.

A Start, But Still Room to Grow

The limit to users was a clear hurdle in Microsoft's ambitions to push Teams into the enterprise. A few other challenges remain though, notably the new 2500 member per Team limit. For companies with over 15,000 employees — in other words, the companies Microsoft appears to be targeting — a 2500 limit is unlikely to be a big enough increase.

The comments in response to Rufo's announcements bear that out, with one user requesting support for teams of 5000.

The inability to extend invitations to external enterprises that don’t have Office 365 Business accounts poses another challenge. Rufo stated the company was working on it, but that it “will take a while [as] it is pretty complicated."

Finally, the number of people who can participate in a call is still capped at 80.

Teams is less than a year old and has gained considerable traction in SMB organizations. This week's increase is a push in the right direction, though there is still room for growth.