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Microsoft Teams now uses 50% less power than when it first launched

It has been a long-term goal of Microsoft to make the Team experience equitable across high and low-performance hardware

Microsoft has said its Teams app now uses 50% less power when running video calls and meetings, thanks to a range of performance improvements it has implemented since 2020. 

Microsoft Teams can be especially demanding for users of low-end devices that lack the adequate hardware processing capabilities of more expensive models, Microsoft said, especially with functions like meetings with multiple video streams or sharing one's screen with a group.

Ongoing optimisations to the collaboration platform have improved the experiences for many business users and have led to reduced energy costs, Microsoft said, as it outlined the timeline of its optimisation releases over the past few years.

"One of the challenges brought on by the ubiquity of Teams is the need to create equitable experiences across an incredibly diverse Windows device ecosystem," said Robert Aichner, principal group program manager at Microsoft.

"We’re committed to ensuring great calling and meeting experiences for users on low-end hardware as well as those on high-end workstations and high-resolution monitors. One of the factors we’ve addressed is the difference in power requirements for different customer profiles by ensuring Teams meetings are as energy-efficient as possible, regardless of setup."

Microsoft measured the improvements by creating a testing framework that accounted for different energy-demanding scenarios, such as video meetings and screen sharing, to evaluate the critical processes associated with them to identify optimisation opportunities. Such processes included content capture, encoding, and rendering.

Graph showing the timeline of optimisations made by Microsoft and indicators of how much each contributed to performance increases

Microsoft

Over the course of 17 months, Microsoft made changes to these processes, starting with video capture optimisation in October 2020, involving a reduction in CPU load when the camera was enabled. This delivered the most significant performance increase, with a 27% drop in power consumption.

Specifically, Microsoft focused on camera optimisations that targeted reduced CPU load in meetings and reducing code complexity in areas such as auto-exposure, auto-white balance, and auto-aliasing.

This was followed by consolidating multiple screen elements for a single render process in February 2021, which brought an additional 14% decrease in power use. Incremental optimisations made over the following year delivered small improvements, slowly building to a peak performance improvement of 52%.

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"Similar to our other performance improvement initiatives, these power consumption improvements are subjected to progressive testing to validate the intended benefits across customers and environments," said Aichner. "Additionally, we evaluate each new planned Teams feature to ensure existing processing efficiencies are not compromised.

"So while we continue to launch innovative Teams features to help people connect and collaborate in new ways, we’re also dedicated to making sure these experiences are optimised for all users, regardless of their network and devices."

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