If you don't upgrade and pay for Microsoft Teams Premium you could lose your data
It is fair to say that the upcoming changes to Microsoft Teams are more than a little confusing. The impending launch of Microsoft Teams Premium means that various features that have been free so far, will only be available to those willing to pay a monthly or annual fee.
The existing free tier -- which Microsoft is now referring to as Microsoft Teams Free (classic) -- will vanish on April 12, 2023. There is a new free tier launching called, sightly puzzlingly, Microsoft Teams (free), but anyone opting for this will not only have to sign up for a new account, but will also lose access to the data associated with their old, free account.
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On a support page about the upcoming change, Microsoft says: "After April 12, 2023, Microsoft Teams Free (classic), the legacy free Teams app for business, will no longer be available. Upgrading to Microsoft Teams Essentials is the easiest way to continue using Teams and maintain access to all your chats, files, teams, and meetings. Teams Essentials also provides unlimited group meetings for up to 30 hours in length with up to 300 participants per meeting, and 10 GB of cloud storage per user -- all for only USD$4.00 per user/month".
The important section to notice here is the part that reads: "Upgrading to Microsoft Teams Essentials is the easiest way to [...] maintain access to all your chats, files, teams, and meetings".
Many existing users of what is now known as Microsoft Teams Free (classic) will not be interested in paying for Microsoft Teams Essentials, and will instead opt for the new Microsoft Teams (free).
For anyone thinking about this, Microsoft points out a fairly significant caveat:
If you prefer to continue using a free version of Teams, sign up for the newer free option, Microsoft Teams (free).
However, to keep your existing files, you must manually save and transfer them to your new free account. They won't transfer automatically.
Pushing the advantage of paying for Teams, Microsoft says that:
There's no data loss during the upgrade -- all your teams, chats, files, and permissions come with you!
This is clearly a switch Microsoft wants as many users as possible to make, as it means more money for the company. And to further maximize profits, Microsoft has something else to share:
Upgrading to a comparable offering, such as Teams Essentials, ensures that you'll continue using Teams with similar features and without interruption. To transfer your data, you must upgrade all profiles on your organization's account.
Elsewhere, the company stresses this, saying: "When you upgrade, your entire org comes along for the ride! However, this means that all users in your org must be upgraded -- we don't support a mix of paid and free users".
While there is unlikely to be much impact on large organizations -- which are, in all probability, already on a paid tier -- for smaller teams and SMEs, there is something of a nightmare ahead when it comes to manually backing up data and rebuilding the previous Teams configurations with new accounts to avoid new costs.