Microsoft Teams gets more collaborative features at Ignite 2021
Microsoft’s second Ignite event of the year – and the biggest one – kicks off today, and tons of new features have been announced for Microsoft Teams. The biggest of these is undoubtedly Mesh for Teams, which brings immersive virtual spaces to the platform. We covered Mesh for Teams in a separate article, but Teams is getting many other features, as it often does.
Starting with meetings, one of the big new features is support for shared channel meetings. Shared channels are channels where an organization can invite members from another organization to work together, and now you’ll be able to conduct video meetings in these channels, too. Microsoft is also adding shared chat, so you can talk one-on-one with people outside your organization if they’re using their personal account.
For meeting organizers, there’s a new virtual green room feature, which allows organizers and presenters to talk with each other before other meeting attendees can see what’s happening. This allows them to prepare for a meeting before it starts without having to set up a separate meeting for that. There are also enhanced controls to allow organizers to choose what the audience sees, and you can assign a co-organizer role to up to 10 users, giving them the same permissions as the organizer.
Another new feature is Q&A in Teams, which allows organizers to ask questions, filter the responses, mark a best answer, and more. A more advanced feature is the ability to create an audio mix of a meeting with each user having an individual audio and video feed. Teams also now supports integration with Cvent, enabling users to manage the lifecycle for Teams meetings in a more familiar way.
Microsoft is also making quality-of-life improvements to the overall meeting experience. Meeting organizers can assign roles to presenters when scheduling the meeting, raised hands will be displayed in order for organizers, and the overflow menu on the mobile app will prioritize common actions like viewing the chat.
For Teams Rooms devices, there’s a new Direct Guest Join feature, allowing Teams Rooms systems to join third-party meetings with limited controls, and vice versa. Right now, this works with Zoom and Cisco, but it’ll also support Bluejeans and GoToMeeting in the future.
On that note, Microsoft also announced a couple of Teams devices at Ignite, including the Yealink deskVision AIO24, a 24-inch display that can be used as a standalone Teams device or as a second screen for a PC. Another new display is the Logitech Tap Scheduler, a Teams panel that makes it easier to view meeting room availability, location information, and meeting details.
It’s not all about meetings, though, as Microsoft also has some new features for Teams chat. For starters, there’s the ability to chat with yourself, which essentially serves as a way to save information as a reminder. There are now over 800 3D emoji reactions – presumably the emoji Microsoft announced back in July – to choose from to react to a message, and you can also delay the delivery of a message to a more convenient time. Additionally, you can now change the chat density settings to fit more messages on the screen. Finally, a new UI for search results should make it easier to find information.
There are also new features for IT managers, including the ability to search for any function in the Teams admin center and an app discovery tool to make, both of which are now generally available. In preview, IT managers can also try a new device analytics dashboard, a new workspace view with the ability to see data for all devices in a specific location, and priority account notifications, so managers can more closely track activity from a specific user.
Finally, Microsoft also announced new improvements to the Teams platform and its interoperability with other services. There are enhanced features for Power Virtual Agents, Teams chat is now available in Dynamics 365 Sales for easier collaboration, the ability to embed Teams chat features in Microsoft Power Apps, and interoperability with Azure Communication Services. There’s also a new contact center experience powered by Teams and Dynamics 365 Customer Service.
Aside from new Teams features themselves, Microsoft also announced new Teams apps at Ignite. New launches include Atlassian Jira Cloud, SAP, and ServiceNow. Those apps are also easier to find thanks to a redesigned Teams app store.