What Zoom’s New Mandatory Client Updates Mean for SMBs
This month, Zoom released a support document introducing a “minimum client version” requirement to its users. “Requiring a minimum client version” is a roundabout way of saying that users are now required to install updates every 90 days or be cut off from using the app entirely. This change can have company-wide effects for small and medium-sized businesses (SMBs), past a few people being late for meetings every so often.
On Zoom, it has always been, and still is, possible to turn off the “check for updates” setting and prompts to update the app. Zoom updates add features and fix bugs, but for a business that was fine with Zoom’s older offerings, turning these settings off saved everyone some trouble. It was arguably the more prudent option before this version requirement for an IT team to set up a business’s Zoom client account without these settings to avoid annoying employees with prompts and updates.
If an IT contractor helped a business set up Zoom, did not turn on automatic updates or update prompts, and has not kept an eye on the client account since then, a company-wide lack of Zoom access could occur as Zoom increases its minimum client version. Versions below the minimum requirement will not allow users to sign in, thus making Zoom unusable and impossible to update without contacting the IT contractor.
SMBs that did not experience a sudden lack of Zoom access at the start of November should check their settings, just in case. The minimum requirement right now is Zoom 5.8.6, which according to Zoom Support’s Release Notes, was released on November 29, 2021. If the Zoom client account has been updated since then, but the prompt or automatic update settings were not changed, the account will eventually become inaccessible unless the settings are changed.
The way to avoid this issue entirely is to turn on automatic updates, or the AutoUpdate feature, as Zoom calls it. AutoUpdate can be set to a “fast track” or a “slow track,” which dictates how often the automatic updates occur. Currently, the “fast track” will update Zoom to 5.12.6, and the “slow track” will update it to 5.12.2.
Why would anyone ever use “slow track” if updates are happening automatically? In short, the “slow track” is a Band-Aid to a different issue: Zoom only updates when you restart the app. Since most people restart the app when they are about to have a meeting, the “slow track” reduces the number of times people have to run late to their meeting because Zoom had to update. That is where prompts come in.
If AutoUpdate is enabled, users will see update prompts before they need to update Zoom to avoid being delayed by an automatic update. To avoid being late to meetings, users must click the prompt to update their Zoom app at a convenient time. If AutoUpdate is disabled, enable it or face unanticipated Zoom doom.