Microsoft Teams gets a facelift

Hemani Sheth Mumbai | Updated on September 25, 2020 Published on September 24, 2020

From breakout rooms to virtual commute, the meeting app now sports a bevy of new features

Microsoft has recently announced a range of new updates and features for its video conferencing platform, Microsoft Teams at its Microsoft Ignite 2020 event. The tech giant will be increasing the participant limit for the tool to support up to 1,000 participants on a meetingby the end of the year.

It will support up to 20,000 participants for larger meetings and events with view-only meetings that include the ability to use live captions. The increased number of participants will be available to users with the new Advanced Communications plan.

Breakout rooms, custom layouts and more

Microsoft had introduced the Together mode on the platform earlier this year, which places all participants of a meeting on a shared background. It will now add ‘Together mode scenes’ to the feature including auditoriums, conference rooms, and a coffee shop. These scenes will be available later this year.

“Presenters will be able to select a scene from the gallery as the default for all meeting attendees. We’re also introducing the use of machine learning in Together mode to automatically scale and centre meeting participants in their virtual seats, regardless of how close or far they are from their camera, creating a more realistic visual experience,” Microsoft explained in a blog post.

It will also be adding custom layouts to Teams later this year to allow presenters to customise how content shows up for participants during the meeting. Another feature to help better organise meetings, called Breakout rooms will be available next month. The feature lets organisers break up meetings into smaller groups to facilitate brainstorming sessions or workgroup discussions.

Another feature coming to the platform is meetings recap. Participants will receive a recap of the meeting including the meeting recording, transcript, chat, shared files, and more which will be automatically created in Teams. The recap will also be available in their Outlook calendar by going to the meeting event.

“And soon, meeting recordings will be automatically stored — like other files are today — in Microsoft 365 so they can be shared, easily and compliantly, with external participants,” Microsoft said. It is also adding Teams meeting extensions to the platform in collaboration with its partners.

“More than 20 partners including HireVue, ServiceNow, Range, Buncee, and PagerDuty are using new Teams meeting extensions, which will move to general availability in October, to integrate their apps and enable custom meeting experiences in Teams,” it said.

Well being experiences in Teams

Micrsoft has also introduced a range of new features to support mental well being and productivity while working remotely. This includes a ‘virtual commute’ feature which will be available in the first half of 2021. The feature will help users “structure their day.”

“Teams will make it seamless to structure your day by scheduling a virtual commute that helps you have a productive start in the morning and mindfully disconnect in the evening. intelligently surfacing suggested tasks and emails from Outlook — plus @mentions in Teams — that might require follow up,” it said. It has also partnered with Headspace “to bring a curated set of mindfulness experiences and science-backed meditations into the flow of work in Microsoft Teams.”

Apart from this, users can also schedule one on one sessions with their colleagues. Apart from this, it is also adding a Calling experience to Teams including a streamlined view that shows contacts, voicemail, and calling history at once.

It is also adding new Workplace Analytics to Teams “to give managers a line of sight into teamwork norms like after-hours collaboration, focus time, meeting effectiveness, and cross-company connections.”

Teams for events

For customer presentations including webinars, Microsoft will be adding Teams support for attendee registration with automated emails. “Attendee reporting and scheduling APIs will also be available,” Microsoft said.

It also announced new Teams devices including Microsoft Teams panels. These panels “can be mounted outside of meeting space to notify participants of scheduling and occupancy and to assist with wayfinding around the office,” Microsoft explained. It will also be adding support for touch-less capabilities such as Room remote app, voice assistance, and Teams casting on Microsoft Teams Rooms devices.

Microsoft also announced a range of updates for other Microsoft 365 tools including new features for Power Platform on Teams. new security features within Microsoft Endpoint Manager, updates for its email service Outlook and new tools and devices for first-line workers.

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Published on September 24, 2020
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