Retirement of Office 365 connectors in Teams not sitting well

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A decision by Microsoft to start retiring Office 365 connectors within Microsoft Teams has resulted in a firestorm of negative reaction.

According to a blog post released last week by Microsoft, starting August 15, all new “connector creation will be blocked within all clouds” and effective October 1,  “all connectors within all clouds will stop working.”

Office connectors in Microsoft Teams, the blog notes, deliver content and service updates directly from third-party services into a Teams channel, allowing team members to stay informed and in sync. The connectors link to services such as Trello, GitHub, RSS feeds, BitBucket, and Azure DevOps, giving users the ability to, for example, collaborate and manage software projects online, manage and collaborate on code projects, receive RSS feeds, and allow a user to receive notifications when videos are created, all within Teams.

To replace the connectors, authors of the blog wrote, “We recommend Power Automate workflows as the solution to relay information into and out of Teams.” Known as Microsoft Flow until late 2019, the SaaS platform optimizes and automates workflows and business processes.

Judging from the bulk of the 127 comments posted in response to the blog post by late afternoon Tuesday, people are outraged. One asked Microsoft if it has not learned from “insufficient transition deadlines. You have given users three months, two of which are during peak holiday season where many staff will be on annual leave for parts of it, to move service integrations away from connector format to possibly something they have never even looked at it. Why?”

Another wrote, “what are you doing? This is a major change for us, coming in the middle of the summer vacation. You should show more respect and not make such changes during the vacation when most people are away from work. Very disappointing!”

Other reactions ranged from “this timeline is a joke, hopefully there was a typo and you meant October ’25” to “the transition time is insufficient. More importantly, Power Automate does not currently replace the functionality of Connectors. I vote that Microsoft delays this transition by at least one year.”

Jeremy Roberts, senior analyst at Info-Tech Research Group, said today, “it is not entirely clear why they are choosing to do  this. They say it is about scale and depth, but there are certainly some kinks they will have to work out. (For example, you can’t send a message to a private channel, which is going to be a whole thing.) I do not know that their user base was begging for the sort of scale they would get from Power Automate replacing their basic connectors. The cynic in me says they derive benefit from pushing Power Automate premium licensing.”

Microsoft, he said, ”has been under some heightened anti-trust scrutiny, and they have done things like unbundling Teams. Perhaps this is a response to increasing regulatory pressure? Teams sits at the nexus of a bundled offering, or at least that was its initial promise. Perhaps introducing this further complexity is a way to demonstrate to regulators, especially in Europe, that Teams is not far and away the market leader? That is a bit conspiratorial but the thought had crossed my mind.”

He described Power Automate as “powerful, but it is more complex than a simple webhook. I could see a situation where the effort required to build and maintain in Power Automate exceeds the value of the notification into the Teams channel that the webhook provided.”

In reaction to the short transition period, Roberts noted,  “the many complaints about this in Microsoft and other sysadmin communities. A few months for something like this does feel rushed, though maybe it is best to rip the band-aid off.”

Overall, he said, the move “feels anti-consumer, though Microsoft would probably argue that Power Automate brings greater opportunities for consumers. The question is, do they want to put the time, effort and money in to realize those opportunities?”

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