Microsoft is sunsetting the older “classic” free version of Teams, and users / small businesses will need to start paying to keep their chats and data intact, as Windows Central reports (via Engadget).
Microsoft Teams Free (classic) will be retired on April 12th, 2023, and will not include a direct migration path to the newer Microsoft Teams (free) version. The changes come after the recent addition of an OpenAI-touting Premium tier of Teams that includes features like auto-generated meeting notes.
Many companies and institutions may be reviewing and cutting back on paid services based on the changing economic situation. For businesses that are deeply entrenched in Teams, it might make sense to start paying for it.
Others might see this as an opportunity to switch to free options from competing services or lean more heavily on features built into other packages they’re already paying for, like Slack, Zoom with Team Chat and Mail & Calendar, or Google’s ever-expanding Workspace platform.
Microsoft is recommending classic free-tier users upgrade to at least the cheapest Teams Essentials subscription that costs $4 per user per month. Upgrading to a paid account will retain meetings, files, chats, and channels. In addition, the paid accounts add support for longer meetings with more people, more storage space, and even Microsoft 365 (Office) apps if selected. Alternatively, organizations could opt for a new free Teams setup but would basically be starting everything from scratch.
Users and organizations can determine if their account is classic by checking to see if their Teams desktop app has a visible “Microsoft Teams Free (classic)” badge after clicking on the profile photo icon on the window. According to the Teams classic retirement page FAQs, those who made free accounts before Decenter 31st, 2021, might be on the affected tier and therefore need to take action.
For organizations running on free Teams classic, it would be a good idea to back up all files, regardless of whether the company decides to start paying Microsoft or not before the April 12th date. If they do decide to upgrade, it’s important to note that it can’t be merged with an existing account, can’t be converted back to Teams classic, and each user account in the organization would need to switch to paid.