Microsoft announced some amazing news on several fronts this week, let’s jump in and take a look!
In a Microsoft Education blog post, GM of Education Barbara Holzapfel talks about what educators have learned from remote learning during COVID-19 and how they are preparing for the new school year. In this post, several announcements are made:
- Coming to preview in July 2020 and released in the fall, Teams will expand the video grid view in meetings to 7×7, meaning a whopping 49 participants on a single screen.
- Also coming in the fall are breakout rooms. This is a competing feature to Zoom and allows meeting participants to split out from the main meeting to meet in small groups, then come back to the main meeting. When I worked at Microsoft, this was a big ask from several companies, and with Zoom having the feature, Microsoft was bound to respond at some point with their own implementation.
- Additional remote interaction and tracking with raising your hand in a meeting and attendance reports and class insights.
- Meeting security to prevent students from starting meetings unattended and additional controls over the meeting lobby.
While many of these improvements are marketed towards the education sector, they will no doubt be a big plus for the enterprise.
Over at the Tech Community Teams blog, several other announcements were made:
- Five tips for planning a successful upgrade to Teams
These are not technical tips but more organizational and culture things to work and point back to several Microsoft provided resources to get started.
- Teams and Skype Consumer Inter/Op now available
Many businesses rely on the ability to communicate with external people using Skype Consumer. Interop with this service is now available. Be sure to check out your external access settings in the Teams admin center to lock this down if needed.
- Taking Class Attendance on Teams for Education
Speaking of education improvements, Microsoft released a Power App for taking student attendance and generating attendance reports. The code is available on GitHub.
If you want to get into the technical nitty gritty, Mark Russinovich outlines how Microsoft expanded and operated the increased usage of Teams on Azure during the pandemic.
Tony Redmond has a great article on improving searches for Teams channel conversations and chats. He outlines improvements coming to searching in Teams starting later this month and into July.
I also released a post talking about how Not All Microsoft Teams and Groups are Created Equally. Creating teams in different ways can end up with a naming standardization issue as well as groups showing up in Outlook and the address book when you don’t want them to.
Chris Hoard on Twitter (@Microsoft365Pro) put out the call for speakers for Teams Fest taking place online in October 2020. Put in your session idea if you are interested in speaking on a Teams topics.
You asked – we listened! Call for Speakers for #TeamsFest now open! Our 3rd event will be the best pound for pound #MicrosoftTeams only event in the world. 100% free. 100% community ✅😎💜 https://t.co/OsaSdIuwxV @MicrosoftTeams @deltanr1 @vesanopanen @ChrisWebbTech pic.twitter.com/YFo15GFMXa— Chris Hoard MVP #Commsverse (@Microsoft365Pro) June 17, 2020
Coming up on Tuesday, June 30, check out the Community Discussion on the State of Microsoft Teams. The panel lineup is a who’s who of industry veterans set to discuss the newest features and discuss where it could be better.
Road Map Updates
Improvements in Meetings Experience for Safari Browser Users
Previously, people using the Safari browser were unable to use their device to join meeting audio and had to dial into the meeting. Coming later this month, Microsoft is fixing this limitation and Safari users will be able to join meeting audio using their device.
Templates in Teams
Announced at Build 2020 in May, users will have the ability to choose from customizable teams templates when creating a team. Initially there will be a set of first-party templates, and customers will be able to create their own for their organization. Expected release is August 2020.
Virtual Breakout Rooms
Mentioned earlier in the article, breakout rooms will allow hosts to split meeting participants into smaller group discussions, then call them back to the larger group. Expected release is 2020 Q4.
Need some end-user training videos for Teams? Microsoft has a great set of videos to get your users started.
Tip of the Week
Check out this YouTube video of 20 Microsoft Teams Productivity Tips.