The first six months of 2021 have brought transformative enhancements to how organisations communicate and collaborate virtually using platforms such as Microsoft Teams. The development of rich integrations between core Office 365 Apps such as Outlook and Teams have helped streamlined our daily workflows and made it easier to schedule and join meetings.
Video conferencing tools continue to grow in popularity and necessity for many organisations globally, as the hybrid work environment becomes more sustainable and requirements for facial cues and interactions becomes clearer. We have seen more immersive and engaging meeting features become available, so the perception of distance and isolation is lessoned for teams working apart. The reliance on virtual meetings also presents a need for an extra layer of security. In response, Microsoft has released several new updates to facilitate tighter security measures and provide safer meeting spaces for everyone.
The ability to connect and work collaboratively with users beyond the four walls of the organisation has been a key focus in Microsoft Teams, especially when it comes to communication such as chatting or calling. Feature releases such as enabling users to create group chats with external users empowers organisations to communicate more freely and efficiently with customers, suppliers, partners and more.
365 Architechs have compiled a selection of the top feature updates and releases available now in Microsoft Teams as well as those coming soon. These features are arranged according to the focus areas of Chat, Call, Meet and Work.
The new external group chat feature enables you to add users from outside your organisation to group chats in Microsoft Teams. You can now create group chats of up to 250 participants across multiple organisations in a single chat. Previously, users were limited to group chats of only internal users. Learn more about Chat with External Users
Calling is a key feature of Microsoft Teams, providing both standard and advanced features enabling you to instantly reach individuals and groups from any device. Microsoft Teams now supports multiple number calling options for contacts that have more than one available number. A new button in the chat header for audio/video calling now displays number options for single contact. Multiple number dialling means users will have more flexibility in reaching contacts, whether this be on their Teams audio or additional phone numbers such as work or mobile. Learn more about Calls
Collaborative calling connects inbound calls to a queue within a Microsoft Teams channel. This feature enables users to collaborate and share information in the channel whilst taking calls in the queue. Admins can connect call queues to specific channels and team owners can manage settings and permissions. The collaborative calling feature is ideal for IT support and HR helpdesk scenarios but benefits any organisation that requires a customer support department. Team members have access to a detailed call log which can alleviate customer service and response time. Learn more about Calls
Webinars now available in Microsoft Teams along with immersive tools such as Presenter mode and Dynamic view. You can now set up and deliver engaging webinars directly from the Microsoft Teams platform itself to connect with audiences of over 1,000 participants both inside and outside your organisation. The addition of webinars to Microsoft Teams is one step closer for the platform becoming an all-inclusive destination for all communication and collaboration needs. You can also measure webinar registration and attendance data from a dedicated reporting dashboard. Learn more about Webinars
Hold more efficient Microsoft Teams meetings with the new countdown timer feature in the breakout rooms. Organisers can set the timer for breakout rooms and when the time is up, all break-out rooms will be closed and participants will be automatically brought back to the main meeting room. The new countdown feature streamlines the meeting experience for organisers as they no longer need to keep an eye on the time when setting breakout rooms. Organisers also have access to participant reassignment capability, enabling them to move participants across rooms when open and to the main meeting. Learn more about Breakout Room Timers
The Meet Now button in Outlook is now available to start an instant Microsoft Teams meeting from their calendar. This feature update brings tighter integration between Microsoft Teams and Outlook, so users can have more convenient and streamlined meeting experiences. The Meet Now button is beneficial when meeting with a hard-to-reach colleague or for launching quick question sessions. Learn more about Meet Now in Outlook
Users are now able to share emails directly from Outlook to Microsoft Teams. The Share to Teams feature brings tighter integration between the two platforms, enabling users to share an entire email conversation to a chat or channel in Microsoft Teams. The Share to Teams option is accessible via the simplified ribbon or the action menu from within an email. Learn more about Sharing to Teams from Outlook
Chat bubbles will soon be available in Microsoft Teams meetings. Instead of users manually opening the chat window in an active meeting, a chat bubble will surface on the screen. This feature update will help improve collaboration and brainstorming, without disrupting the meeting flow or distracting users from displayed content or the speaker. Chat bubbles will make the conversation more central to the meeting. Learn more about Chat
A new calling dashboard is coming soon to Microsoft Teams. The update will include a streamlined view showing contacts, voicemail and calling history together. This dashboard provides a simplified and streamlined interface for users, making it easier to initiate or return a call with a single click. Learn more about Calling
Live transcription with speaker attribution is coming soon to Microsoft Teams. This feature update will enable call participants to view live captions of their call as well as capture the text version of their calls to save for later use. The new transcription feature provides convenience and accessibility for participants who find it easier to follow conversations with visual prompts. Learn more about Calling
Before joining a meeting, you will be able to apply filters to adjust lighting levels, smooth out facial features and improve your camera focus. This update will allow you to execute better video quality to hold more engaging meetings and calls. Learn more about Meetings
Previously when a producer or presenter ran a live event, they were not able to restart it even if you accidently ended it or if the event ran into an error. With this new feature, you will be able to restart your live event after you have ended it or if you have encountered a problem during it. Learn more about Live Events
Presenter mode enables presenters to customise how their video feed and content appear to the audience with immersive and professional layouts. The first layout, Standout, is now available to show the speaker’s video feed as a silhouette super-imposed over shared content. This layout allows you to easily direct your audiences’ attention through hand gestures and facial cues, without making compromising your content. Stay tuned for the next two layouts coming soon: Reporter and Side-by-side. Learn more about Presenter Mode
Forms polls are now available in Microsoft Teams meetings for presenters to collect important participant feedback and insights. When a poll is published, a pop-up window will appear on all attendee’s screens and in the meeting chat, so everyone is notified. Polls can be filled out by attendees before, during and after a meeting. Currently polls include multiple-choice options and further capability is launching soon, including AI-based poll suggestions and data reports for polls after a meeting. When available, a summary report for all polls created in a meeting will be generated and shared with meeting organisers and presenters. Learn more about Forms in Meetings
Soon, Microsoft Teams meeting organisers will have the ability to lock their meetings to prevent uninvited guests from joining. Any uninvited users attempting to join a locked meeting, from a desktop, mobile or web device will receive a pop-up message informing them that the meeting is locked. Learn more about Locking a Meeting
The “join by code feature” is coming soon to offer users a new way to join Microsoft Teams meetings. The new feature will enable users to do just that – join a meeting using a unique code. When a new meeting is scheduled, a unique digital code will be generated, which can then be quickly shared with team members. This code will also be included in meeting invitations for users to access. This feature will be available to use on all Microsoft Teams platforms, including the desktop, mobile and web apps. Learn more about Meeting Codes
Microsoft Teams Connect will soon enable you to collaborate with people and teams that span different organisations. Essentially, Microsoft Teams Connect is federated shared channels between internal and external users from different organisations. This feature allows you to add internal or external individuals to a channel within a team, easily facilitating cross-organisation collaboration. Shared channels are like private channels except you do not need to add external users as guests. Learn more about Teams Connect
A new feature is coming to Microsoft Teams that enables you to quickly create a task from any chat or channel conversation. You will not need to switch apps or windows, simply select More options on a message and choose Create task. This automatically creates a new task, which you can modify and track in the Tasks app, within Microsoft Teams. The integration of task creation in messages enables you to identify tasks that arise naturally in Teams conversations. This process also streamlines your day by reducing the need to manually enter each new task. Learn more about Creating a Task from a Message
Microsoft Teams is the digital teamwork hub for modern businesses, facilitating collaboration with workspace chat, audio and video conferencing, shared file storage and application integration. Teams is part of the Microsoft 365 family and is accessible via desktop, mobile and web devices.