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Microsoft To Sunset Kaizala Messaging Service in 2023

Microsoft announced that it will be ending its Kaizala messaging service next year.

Microsoft has already blocked new Kaizala subscriptions as of Friday, Aug. 26, 2022. Microsoft wants prospective Kaizala users to use the Microsoft Teams collaboration service instead.

Existing Kaizala users also are being encouraged to switch to Teams. They'll no longer be able to use Kaizala in about a year, starting on Aug. 31, 2023. Existing Kaizala users, though, can add new Kaizala users up to the Aug. 31, 2023 end date.

Microsoft's plans seem to apply to both Kaizala as used through Microsoft subscriptions and its free Kaizala app. The announcements didn't specify any product exceptions.

Under Microsoft's Modern Lifecycle Support policy, Microsoft just commits to "a minimum of 12 months' notification prior to ending support if no successor product or service is offered." In this case, Microsoft sees Teams as the successor product that mostly fulfills the same functions as Kaizala.

Microsoft does admit, though, that Teams doesn't provide full equivalents for all of Kaizala's functions.

"For specific Kaizala functionality that isn't yet available in Teams, we'll be posting an updated timeline in the future," Microsoft stated in this "Kaizala and Microsoft Teams" document.

Kaizala and Teams
Kaizala was notable for simplifying the use of messaging and video communications on mobile phone devices, while also promising "enterprise-grade security," per Microsoft's past descriptions.

A Kaizala Pro version was announced about three years ago that specifically was integrated with Microsoft Teams and available to organizations via Microsoft 365 and Office 365 subscription plans. Microsoft had killed off a Kaizala Pro standalone product, though, back on July 1, 2020.

While Microsoft had described Kaizala Pro capabilities as being "complementary" with Teams, they may have been somewhat duplicative as well. Many of the Kaizala apps (called "actions") show up as Teams app templates, according to the "Kaizala and Microsoft Teams" document:

Kaizala Pro capabilities are now available in Teams and include Kaizala actions that are now available as Teams app templates, such as polls, surveys, checklists, quizzes, and training. We have recently released the capability for any Teams users to interact with external users through their phone numbers. View the blog and article to learn more.

Transition Support
Microsoft offers a somewhat repetitive series documents to help organizations shift to Microsoft Teams, plus some videos, and an "Exploratory" license offering. Here's the list of available resources, as described in the lifecycle announcement:

Microsoft also told its partners to prepare for questions about Teams capabilities and transition steps. This moment is viewed as an "opportunity" for partners, both in terms of assisting organizations in moving to Teams and in selling Office 365 or Microsoft 365 licenses.

"We anticipate this announcement may spark an increased volume of inquiries from customers with specific questions about Kaizala support, Teams capabilities, transition planning resources, and even exception requests for support past August 2023," the partner announcement stated.

Microsoft Teams Exploratory License
For Kaizala users that didn't use Teams, but are using Azure Active Directory, Microsoft is advocating the use of the "Microsoft Teams Exploratory License." It's a trial of multiple Microsoft 365 apps (and not just Teams) for one year.

The Microsoft Teams Exploratory License is available to organizations that "belong to a tenant with a paid subscription" and that do not have a Teams license. It's not available to organizations that previously had a trial license, Microsoft's document explained, nor can government or academic users take advantage of it.

Oddly, the Microsoft Teams Exploratory License seems to get instigated by end users, rather than by IT departments.

"The Teams Exploratory experience is meant to be initiated by individual end users, and you can't initiate this offer on behalf of end-user employees," the document explained.

It is possible, though, for IT pros with admin privileges to turn off the Microsoft Teams Exploratory License.

When the trial of the Microsoft Teams Exploratory License ends, users get a 30-day grace period before data are deleted by Microsoft. The data can still be retained, though, if a new paid Teams subscription gets added before the end of the grace period.

"Once a new license is assigned to the user to enable Teams functionality again, all content will still exist if the user is added within the grace period time frame," Microsoft explained, regarding Microsoft Teams Exploratory Licenses that are ending.

It's possible to switch Kaizala groups over to Teams, and later delete Kaizala groups. The steps are somewhat explained, in a roundabout way, in this "Navigate Microsoft Teams" document.

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