As per Microsoft’s official blog released today, Microsoft have announced big changes to licensing for Microsoft Teams Rooms. If you have already deployed (or are planning to deploy) Microsoft Teams Rooms on Windows, on Android, or Surface Hubs, these changes will affect you.

As of September 1st 2022, Microsoft has begun offering Microsoft Teams Room Basic & Pro, which will replace Microsoft Teams Rooms Standard and Premium licensing SKUs that are required to license both Teams Room systems and Surface Hubs:

Changes to Room Licensing as of September 1st 2022

Prior to September 1st, Standard and Premium room licenses were both paid options, and both provided the same in room experience regardless of which license you decided to use. What Premium did add however were more advanced capabilities around monitoring and alerting, security, reporting, software updates and inventory control. In addition, Premium licensing also gave you access to a managed service from Microsoft: tickets were either automatically created, or manually requested from the Teams Room Premium portal, with resources from Microsoft assigned to resolve.

Limitations of Basic

With the previous licensing structure, there were no differences with the in room experience regardless of licensing chosen: Standard and Premium both allowed use of all in room features, with the benefits of Premium being more from a support perspective. With the new licensing structure, advanced features are only available with the Pro license.

The following table provides a good overview of what features are available with Basic and Pro:

Basic vs Pro

NOTE: one that isn’t clearly outlined in the table is dual screen support – you’ll need a Pro license if you want to use dual screens. This is more clearly articulated here.

If basic still meets your needs, also keep in mind that it’s limited to 25 licenses per tenant. Basic is very much targeted at SMB deployments and removes licensing blockers for these spaces to be Teams enabled.

Benefits of Pro

Whilst I could see what Microsoft was trying to achieve with the premium license previously available, in practice it did not go far enough from a managed services perspective to give a level of assurance that most organisations desire. Sure, tickets were automatically generated, updates were being handled better, much better alerting and reporting was available. But what could be done if the issues could not be resolved remotely? What if there was a device failure, or a site visit was required? What about the AV layer – who was responsible for that?

With the move to Pro, Microsoft has made some key changes, namely:

  • The AI-powered platform value from Managed Services (Premium) will be included as part of the Microsoft Teams Rooms Pro SKU, with access to the intelligent device management dashboard available in the coming months.
  • Microsoft will be winding down the involvement of service engineers. Importantly, this includes no longer serving as the intermediaries for the incident management workflows starting October 1, 2022.

As someone who works with customers on a daily basis who have either deployed Teams Rooms or are thinking about it, I’m happy to see the changes that are coming to the licensing structure, for the following reasons:

  • Alerting and reporting with Teams Room Standard was not sufficient to provide a good level of service for most organisations. Notification and alerts would only allow me to trigger an alert based on online\offline device health status, which was not granular enough to be really effective. Reporting was also very limited. With Pro, all the alerting and reporting benefits that were part of Premium are included.
  • The removal of the managed services component from Microsoft aligns better with what we see our customers needing to provide a good level of service. As I mentioned earlier: there’s more to manage in a Teams Meeting Room than the core meeting room system itself. Even in a simple room setup, there’s screens, USB peripherals from a range of partners, as well as things outside the room that can affect a room’s up time. Rooms are also physical spaces: when things break, need to be reset, or cannot be reached remotely, a managed service needs to include a mechanism to support on-site visits.

The new model allows Microsoft partners to built their managed service offers around pro, without the confusion that having additional managed services included in Premium licensing tended to generate:

Not using Room Licensing for your Rooms?

From time to time I do come across rooms that are licensed with non room specific licensing: E3, E5, a combination of E3 + Phone System + Intune etc. Not the most efficient way to license a room, but do come across it nonetheless.

If you are doing something like this, you have until July 1st 2023 to update to room licensing. Prior to that date, Microsoft will be alerting you via pop ups on the Teams Room systems themselves, so worth getting out in front of:

What about Teams Room Panels?

If you have use cases that call for a Teams Room Panel outside the room only, without a Teams Room system or Surface Hub in the room itself, there will be an additional license coming that will meet this requirement. Microsoft’s Ilya Bukshteyn has confirmed this via LinkedIn, however no timeframe at this stage:

Final Thoughts

Since the inception of Room Standard and Premium licensing, I’ve always held the opinion that Standard did not provide enough from an alerting and reporting perspective, and that the Managed Services of Premium did not go far enough to provide a true managed service offering that organisations require. I see the move to Basic and Pro as a way to simplify the discussion: Basic is there to streamline deployments for initial pilots and smaller organisations, with Pro the way to go for larger orgs that require all the additional features and benefits. The removal of the managed services direct from Microsoft also ensures that discussions around ongoing support are streamlined, with qualified partners filling the gap and ensuring the entire space is managed end to end.

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