New Microsoft Teams features – coming soon to a screen near you.

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The phenomenal success of the Zoom app during the lockdown caught everyone by surprise.

The truth is that Zoom’s rise was years in the making. It’s just that when vast swathes of the world’s workforce were sent home, people needed a videoconferencing platform that was ready to do the job.

Zoom proceeded to deliver the ease of access and functionality that made it an instant success, much to the embarrassment of the established tech giants such as WebEx, GoToMeeting, Google and Microsoft.

Of course, it’s a little unfair to lump Microsoft Teams in with dedicated videoconferencing apps such as Zoom, as it offers far more than just the ability to make video calls. Teams is an enterprise level communication and collaboration platform that combines workplace messaging, file storage and application integration.

Even so, with 300m people using Zoom every day, Microsoft knew that they had to respond and update Teams in order to improve its functionality and overall appeal. As a result, the technology giant has spent the lockdown months researching how its customers use its tools, while also working with experts in virtual reality, AI and productivity to help further its understanding of the future of work.

The new features that will help you to get even more out of Microsoft Teams.

At the end of the day, it’s all about enabling people to collaborate, stay connected, and discover new ways to be productive – no matter where they are working.

The new features have been designed to make virtual interactions far more natural, engaging and human. As a result, users should feel more connected and inclusive, while reducing meeting fatigue and saving time.

The new features are quite extensive, so we have highlighted the most important and relevant in this post, for a full run down direct from Microsoft click here.

  1. Together mode.

A new meeting experience that uses AI segmentation technology to digitally position people into a single shared background, so that participants feel like they are all sitting in the same room.

The idea behind this addition is to help you to focus on people’s faces and body language in order to make it easier to pick up on the non-verbal cues that are so essential to human interaction.

Aimed at meetings where there may be many people speaking, Together mode makes it easier to see exactly who is talking and also uses some AI to make participants ‘look toward’ the active speaker. The auditorium view should be available to everyone by August, while different room types such as a coffee shop will follow shortly after.

2. Dynamic view. 

Designed to provide you with greater control over how you view participants and share content during meetings. Dynamic view uses AI to deliver a range of new features, such as the ability to display shared content and specific individuals side-by-side, as well as personalising the view to suit your personal preferences.

Building on previous enhancements, it includes a large gallery view where you can see up to 49 people simultaneously, together with virtual breakout rooms which enables organisers to divide participants into smaller groups when required. Dynamic view will be rolled out in August.

  1. Video filters. 

The use of filters in social media apps has become increasingly popular, so Microsoft have introduced them into Teams.

Now you can look your best by using the filters to adjust lighting levels and soften the focus of the camera in order to customise your appearance to your desired outcome.

  1. Live reactions. 

It can be difficult to gauge audience reactions especially when there are a large number of people and you don’t want to interrupt the flow of the meeting. With Live reactions, participants will be able to use emojis to make their feelings known.

In addition, Live reactions is a shared feature with PowerPoint Live Presentations, enabling audience members to give instant feedback to the presenter. Microsoft is also bringing PowerPoint Live Presentations to Teams in the near future, further enhancing audience engagement right from Teams itself.

  1. Chat bubbles. 

At the moment, users are required to manually open a chat window in order to view the chat screen. But soon any messages sent during a Teams meeting will appear on the screens of all participants, creating a more central, interactive, and inclusive conversation.

  1. Speaker attribution for live captions and transcripts. 

While Teams already provides live captions so that you can follow what is being said in a meeting, soon there will be speaker attribution to captions so that participants will know exactly who is speaking.

Live captions with speaker attribution

Later this year, we will also see live transcripts, providing you with another way to follow what has been said, together with who said it. Furthermore, following a meeting the transcript file is automatically saved in a tab as a part of the meeting.

Live transcription with speaker attribution.

It’s worth noting that remarks made by participants joining from a conference room device will be attributed to the room rather than to the individuals in the room.

7. Reflect messaging extension. 

With employee well-being in mind, the Reflect messaging extension gives managers and organisers a simple way to check on how participants are feeling, either generally or about specific work-related topics.

In a few weeks, you will be able to install the extension from GitHub and make it available to colleagues via the message extension menu. The extension provides suggested check-in questions, or you can add your own custom questions for participants to respond to, creating a poll-like experience that you can either share or keep anonymous.

  1. Interactive meetings for 1,000 participants and view only for up to 20,000! 

Teams meetings are growing to support up to 1,000 participants, where attendees can chat, talk, and use their video cameras for real-time interaction and collaboration.

And should you wish to bring even more people together for a presentation, Teams can now support a view-only experience for as many as 20,000 participants!

Want to know how to make the most of Microsoft Teams and the latest features?

To find out more about Microsoft Teams and how it can enable your workforce to communicate and collaborate more effectively, whether in the office or from home call 0161 537 4980 or email james.simpson@quadris.co.uk