Microsoft this week has been holding Ignite, their annual conference where they focus on product announcements. A lot of product announcements. (Here is a summary if you would like to dive in.) I want to focus on the latest Teams features. You can read about all of them here. I am going to focus on the ones that will resonate with the ways our customers are using Teams.
Remember when people were shy about using video to talk to their colleagues? Yeah, me neither. I even met someone’s dog on a call today (Shout out to Gabby!). One of the latest Teams features is an improvement (OK, several improvements) to the way that participant video images are displayed.
We are all familiar with the “Brady Bunch” video arrangement. (Here is a link for those who were not around when Jan, Marcia, Greg, Bobby, Alice and… well, the Bunch captivated viewing audiences.) Our CTO, Ricardo, even found a Brady Bunch background for his Teams video meetings.
But I digress.
Microsoft first introduced “together” mode, which put everyone in a virtual classroom. This was to reduce the fatigue that followed from trying to follow the bouncing switch-to-the-talker view. Now, Microsoft has announced Dynamic view, which (as the name would suggest) dynamically adjusts your view based on what is going on in the meeting.
Microsoft has also expanded the options for “Presenter” mode. These options make it easier to focus on the Presenter and their content. My favorite is “Reporter” mode, which places the displayed content above and to the right of the presenter’s shoulder. It reminds me of cable news, without the crawl at the bottom of the screen (next year!).
Help for Presenters!
Speaking of presenting, another of the latest Teams features brings PowerPoint “presentation mode” to Teams. As presenter, you now see a screen showing what your audience sees, along with the next slide and any speaker notes. Now I don’t have to present at meetings with two laptops at once.
Attendees can also pause, rewind, and move forward through your slides. This latest Teams feature empowers attendees to move through your content at their own pace. This is great for attendees who arrive late to the meeting and want to catch up quickly. This also strikes a blow against overstuffed presentation content. Do not put too much material in your presentation, or we will gleefully skip right past it. There is also an option to have the content read to you, which is a great help for those with visual disabilities.
Microsoft also announced new security and privacy capabilities for Teams. Here are a few highlights among the latest Teams features.
- You can now encrypt 1:1 VoIP calls end-to-end. This can be useful if you are having a sensitive conversation.
- Meeting organizers can disable attendee video. No more virtual classroom disruption!
- Teams will support multi-geographic data residency, down to the user and channel level. Some customers require that their data be housed in specific locations (e.g., British Commonwealth countries) to comply with privacy and security regulations. Now this can be done.
- The Safe Links security feature now works with Teams.
- Meeting organizers can set a default that auto-admits invited participants to a meeting, but makes uninvited participants wait in the lobby to be admitted.
The Latest Teams Features I Did Not Discuss
There were many more Teams features announced. These had to do with webinar enhancements, new devices, new Teams rooms features, automation, calling, mobile, Dynamics 365 integration, and more.
If you want to know more about any of these latest Teams features let me know!