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Microsoft Teams Rooms: Choosing the right platform for your space

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Microsoft Teams Rooms makes hybrid meetings better by connecting remote and in-office participants, enabling inclusive and interactive team meetings with video, audio, content sharing, and rich collaborative features. While Teams Rooms devices were initially offered exclusively on the Windows platform, we launched Teams Rooms on Android to offer additional customer choice and the ability to use more appliance-like devices. This blog is intended to help customers understand the differences between these platforms.

The Microsoft Teams product is offered on a variety of Android-based devices, from mobile phones, IP desk phones, to panels and displays. Through innovation in ARM based systems combined with the thought leadership and engineering of our hardware partners (OEMs), we have expanded the portfolio of devices available for Teams Rooms to include the Android platform. Since its launch in 2020, the number of devices offering Teams Rooms on Android has increased to include bars, boards and modular systems from nine OEM partners, and growing (see a full list of Certified for Teams Rooms on Android devices here). Meanwhile, performance and cost now enable our Windows-based OEMs to also offer bar and board form factors, and modular systems at similar price points. For our customers, this combination of Android and Windows based systems provides a scalable ecosystem of solutions for rooms of any size. From focus and small rooms, medium to large rooms, multi-purpose and boardrooms, there is a Teams Rooms device for every space.

An important part of our commitment to customers is that users have the same reliable experience when joining a meeting from any Teams Room, no matter which operating system (OS) is powering the device. Whether it’s a morning kick-off meeting in a Teams Room on Windows or an afternoon sync in a Teams Room on Android, users can rely on a consistent one-touch join experience in each meeting, with high-quality audio and video. By making sure that the Teams Rooms features work the same way as the Teams apps that users have on their own devices (desktop and mobile devices), we also help users with a consistent and familiar experience across all Teams apps.

That said, there are differences between the operating systems. Let’s explore differences between the Teams Rooms on Windows and Teams Rooms on Android platforms in terms of ecosystem, experiences, management, and what Microsoft’s commitment to consistency of experiences means for each platform. In the end, these differences inform the investments we make on each platform.

  1. Peripheral support: Teams Rooms on Windows offers support for a robust ecosystem of USB-based devices that enables you to combine different audio and video peripherals. This support makes these devices more suitable for spaces that depend on several external peripherals, or to intentionally mix components from multiple OEMs in a single room. Devices powered by Teams Rooms on Android are often proprietary systems that may only be compatible with peripherals from the same OEM. Android systems are not Plug-and-Play.
  2. OS and applications updates: Like other Windows based systems, Microsoft controls and delivers the OS and application updates directly and consistently across all Teams Rooms devices. Teams Rooms on Android devices depend on our partners for OS and firmware updates, as each OEM may have their own custom Android OS version and services on these devices. This means more effort and time is needed to provide the same validation and quality assurance across different OEMs, and the features of Teams Rooms may vary depending on each OEM’s specific offer.
  3. Management: Device deployment, configuration, and monitoring are consistent across all Teams Rooms on Windows devices through the Pro Management Portal (PMP). This enables a uniform management experience with every system, regardless of the OEM. Teams Rooms on Android devices leverage the Teams Admin Center (TAC) for basic management support, while OEM partners provide an array of device experiences for deployment, configuration, monitoring, and feature availability depends on each OEM’s unique priorities. Over time, the Teams Pro Management Portal will incorporate more of these Teams Rooms on Android settings into the Pro Management tools as well.
  4. Feature release: Teams Rooms on Windows can deliver Teams feature updates directly to Teams Rooms devices and therefore more quickly and consistently across OEMs, and because it shares user interface and audio/video components with the Teams desktop client it will offer a more complete Teams Meetings feature set. Teams Rooms on Android devices require more customization for each device by Microsoft, and feature updates require OEM participation to release, these may cause delay in feature availability.

Ultimately, these variations can create differences or gaps as well as opportunities for unique innovations. Every organization has unique needs across their portfolio of shared meeting spaces, so it is critical to understand the benefits of each device and each OS platform, and to choose the right room system for the space it will serve. Weighing factors including the device cost, integration complexity, device management and security policies, and the guidance of systems integrators or other partners, there are multiple factors to consider when designing your room system portfolio.

How customers can navigate the differences

Rather than limiting options to a single platform, we encourage customers to begin by defining the specific needs of each of their shared spaces. Consider expectations for the cost and lifecycle of the device, as well as the cost of room integration. Consider the various types of usage for the space itself, and how many people it should accommodate. Consider the need to participate in non-Teams meetings in that space, and how your users will connect to those meetings. Consider if you will be adding peripherals, and which OEMs those peripherals may come from, and how you plan to deploy, configure and maintain the room system and its updates over time. With these requirements in hand, it’s much easier to choose the right tools for the job.

If your organization needs a meeting room experience that is able to evolve and grow with your needs, offering new software and hardware based AV peripheral capabilities, Teams Rooms on Windows may be a good fit. Devices built on the Windows platform offer flexibility to update and expand over time, support a diverse array of peripherals from different OEMs, and facilitate updates and the addition of new software. Their GPU/CPU is general purpose and can run multiple apps, and they generally have a long hardware lifespan.

In rooms where you may want a more purpose-built device for the space size, type, and need, with integrated peripherals that are usually from the same hardware manufacturer, Teams Rooms on Android devices can be a great choice.

There are nuances to every organization’s needs, and you may find that you design rooms using both options. For example, in larger conference rooms that require a more complex set-up and scope for future expansions that grow with your business needs, we’d recommend a device with modular capabilities, generally Teams Rooms devices based on Windows. For a smaller huddle space or focus room, you may find the benefits of an integrated device like a Teams Rooms on Android is a great approach.

Whether you choose a modular and extensible Teams Rooms system running Windows, or a more integrated Teams Rooms device based on Android, you can expect a familiar Teams Rooms application experience for users, with core features such as one-touch join, proximity detection, and content sharing. Both options will deliver core end user and management features, making your meetings more inclusive and collaborative. Our dedication to seamless meeting and calling experiences in shared spaces remains unwavering, accommodating diverse paths to optimal teamwork for every organization.

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