With the current pandemic, the demand for online meeting and collaboration technologies is surging like never before. Microsoft is working to differentiate its core product Microsoft Teams from its competitors by adding some innovative new features this year. They have been announcing and rolling out features quickly – yesterday they announced the first feature below and this morning I can see the last feature below on my Teams client.
So without further ado, let’s break them down one by one:
Increasing Participant Video from 4 people to 9
Previously, no matter how many people you have in the meeting, you could only see 4 people on video. Now this is increasing to 9. Seeing more people just makes the meeting more inclusive and matches what other platforms could already do or are moving towards.
Removing Background Noise with AI
The Artificial Intelligence experts at Microsoft have come up with a method of removing background noise from Teams calls automatically. This impressive demonstration shows the different before & after this feature is turned on using the example of a rustling bag of potato chips being masked out by the AI feature.
Raise Hand Button
Matching a feature available on competing platforms, Teams will now offer a button for somebody not speaking to be able to be recognized for a turn. This is especially useful during large or busy meetings.
Teams will be getting a much needed Offline mode which will allow you to read & reference previous chat messages and their file attachments, as well as drafting new messages while offline.
Pop-out a Chat into a New Window
This is something I honestly have missed from Skype for Business: the ability for individual chat windows to be detached from the main Teams window. Useful when you want to maintain a private conversation or reference a previous message while still using the main Teams window for meetings or other purposes.
Teams will also soon match competing platforms by allowing users to choose a background image instead of the room they’re in. This is a very fun feature and one I’m looking forward to using to keep our team motivated. I can’t wait to join our daily team standup from Mars or a fighter jet cockpit!
These features are all excited and, in my opinion, they make an already great product even better.
Microsoft reports that Teams is boasting 44 million active daily users as of March 2020, which bodes well for the platform overall. Teams has also recently been included in all Microsoft 365 plans, which should surely keep the product team busy and adding even more features as time goes on.
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