Microsoft has been heavily pushing Teams and releasing new collaboration features, and the tech giant’s Ignite conference continued that trend, as Microsoft made several announcements impacting Teams and the Microsoft 365 family of products, as well as a partnership with what was once a key competitor in the collaboration space.
Office becomes Microsoft 365
The company announced that the Microsoft Office app is becoming Microsoft 365 app, which the company defines as the home for productivity apps such as Teams, Word, Excel, PowerPoint and Outlook. Also included are new apps such as Loop and any third-party apps organizations choose.
According to Microsoft, the 365 app is a secure, integrated experience built on the Microsoft Graph that brings together all of the user’s documents, files, contacts, meetings and more—with intelligent, personalized Graph-powered recommendations. The Microsoft 365 app will be available to customers across business, education and consumer segments.
New Cisco partnership
Teams has been a major focus of Microsoft since the pandemic, as the company’s flagship collaboration rivals Zoom and boasts more than 270 million monthly active users. The company says it has introduced more than 450 new capabilities in the past year alone, and the Ignite event served as another platform for more announcements of new collaboration features.
There are a handful of conferencing platforms organizations are using, with Teams and Cisco Webex among them. Interoperability has been an issue, with different organizations and departments standardizing on different platforms. However, Microsoft made a major move toward interoperability by announcing that Cisco is now a Teams Rooms certified device partner, meaning that Teams meetings will be available natively across certified Cisco meeting devices. This allows users to configure Teams as the default meeting experience.
In the first half of 2023, the companies will begin offering the availability to run Teams natively on Cisco Room and Desk devices that are certified for Teams. Six of Cisco’s popular meeting devices and three peripherals will be certified for Teams to start, including the Cisco Room Bar, the Cisco Board Pro 55-inch and 75-inch, and the Cisco Room Kit Pro for small, medium and large meeting room spaces, respectively. The Cisco Desk Pro and Cisco Room Navigator will follow.
The first peripheral — the Cisco Desk Camera 4K — is an intelligent USB webcam and will be available by the end of October 2022, followed by two headphones with a Teams button by early 2023, according to the companies.
Teams Rooms devices
To help make hybrid meetings more inclusive, the Microsoft is partnering with hardware manufacturer Yealink on the SmartVision 60, a 360-degree center-of-room intelligent camera that produces multiple video streams with intelligent active speaker tracking. That same AI technology will also soon bring people recognition, the company says.
The device was developed as part of a partnership between Microsoft, Yealink, Intel, NVIDIA and Ricoh. Read this Tech Community blog for other device announcements and Teams Rooms innovations.
According to Microsoft, Teams Premium is a new meeting offering that includes several intelligent features, including intelligent recap, a new experience that creates tasks, generates chapters from the meeting and shares personalized highlights from the recording. The offering also features Live translation for captions, another AI-powered tool that delivers real-time translations from 40 different languages.
Other Teams Premium features include meeting guides that automatically set up the right meeting options, new safeguards for confidential information with advanced meeting protection, virtual appointments for personalized business-to-consumer communication and new webinar experiences.
In another move designed to enable organizations to adopt a more effective distributed work model, the company is launching Microsoft Places, a new product category designed to help employees understand who will be in the office when, where people are sitting, what meetings to attend in person and how to book office space.
Spaces can also help IT and facility leaders understand how office space is being used and optimize their real estate investments. Third-party partners can also build and integrate new and existing solutions on top of Places, the company says.
New Teams features, experiences
Microsoft says it is also rolling out several new features in Teams designed to make meetings more interactive, including Excel Live, rolling out next month, that allows participants to live-edit Excel files directly from Teams without having to open the file.
Meanwhile, the company says the preview of Teams Live Share can turn any app shared in a Teams Meeting into a real-time, multi-user collaborative experience where participants can interact, annotate, and collaborate directly in the meeting window.
Along with new capabilities in Together mode, a new hours and location feature to make it easier to schedule in-person meetings by allowing people to specify and adjust from hour to hour whether they will be available in the office or working remotely. This is also available in Outlook, the company says.
Microsoft is also rolling out new Teams channels and chat experiences designed for more focused collaboration, including new post types, AI-recommended replies, new emojis and video clips.
Visit Microsoft’s Book of News for more information on these and other announcements made during Ignite.
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