Tom Talks Microsoft Teams and Microsoft 365 news and opinions

Microsoft Teams admin defined organisation-wide custom video backgrounds, only $5 PUPM

We got an update on Friday (MC249777) giving details of how an administrator will be able to the ability to “push”/define a gallery of video backgrounds to users across the organization to access. Rollout begins in late April and should be complete in late May. A handy feature, but it only comes as part of the Advanced Communications Licence.

Currently, users can add their own video background, if you have enabled this feature for Teams desktop apps and Teams on the web.


It’s mainly over now I think, but during the peak of the pandemic, it was great fun to switch out your background with collections of backgrounds from people like Fox, BBC and Ikea.

Images can be either PNG or JPG format; they should be no smaller than 360x360px and no larger than 2048x2048px.

Users adding their own background is included in all licence levels of Teams (even free)

While the ability for admins to push images feature (actually, as Tony Redmond pointed out, they probably don’t get literally pushed as images to the users PC, but appear as a “gallery” in the client the user can select from), is in “preview” it will be available to all tenants, but in July when it becomes generally available this feature will require an Advanced Communications license.

Admins can upload them in the Teams Admin Center. For the admin pushed images, you can host up to 50 images in your tenant.

Since posting this blog, a few people have pointed out, if you are a bit handy you could, literally, push selected images directly to the Teams background Image folder via tools like Intune. I’m not sure this is “supported” but multiple people have confirmed it as working. e.g. Pushing Teams Background images through Intune – JordyInTheCloud

Advanced Communications licence required


Advanced Communications licence has a checkered history. Originally being needed for Compliance/Policy Session Recording and Contact Center API (now not needed for either). It now covers:

  • Custom branded meeting lobby (a branded virtual lobby experience
  • “Monitor, track, and analyze data on users and devices” – I’m honestly unclear what feature this refers to, but could it be the upcoming real-time reporting?
  • Custom policy packages – Teams comes with Policy packages, this allows you to create your own

And now this pushing virtual video background feature. Apparently, more will be coming in Advanced Comms too.

It is listed at $12 PUPM, but currently on “promo” at $5 PUPM. Commercial organisations need to make money, I’m not against Microsoft making money, but honestly, I’m struggling to see $5 PUPM of value here. It seems an odd set of features to licence. We just got Webinars, an amazing value, added to E3 or higher, but Microsoft wants $5 PUPM (maybe $12 PUPM after the promo period) for “advanced communications”?

I’m interested to hear your thoughts.

Reference MC249777

Also available here if you don’t have admin center access MC249777 – Microsoft Teams: introducing organization-wide backgrounds (preview) – The Unofficial M365 Changelog (


About the author

Tom Arbuthnot

A Microsoft MVP and Microsoft Certified Master, Tom Arbuthnot is Principal Solutions Architect at Microsoft Collaboration specialists Modality Systems.

Tom stays up to date with industry developments and shares news and his opinions on his blog, Microsoft Teams Podcast and email list. He is a regular speaker at events around the world.

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  • Advanced Comms Licenses – were originally supposed to fuel the larger meetings (300 – 1,000 active participants), longer and larger Live Events and a greater number of Live Events per tenant. All of these have gone by the way now and are included for E3 (and equivalent). Like you Tom, I’m struggling to see how admin delivered backgrounds gets anywhere close to a $5 PUPM value. I wrote an MSI to deliver our corporate backgrounds last year and we deploy the same images via JAMF for our managed Mac users. No need for an advanced comms license to do that!

Tom Talks Microsoft Teams and Microsoft 365 news and opinions