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What's New In Teams: April 2021

Related Article: One-Touch Join a Microsoft Teams or Zoom Meeting from your Boardroom



Microsoft has been hard at work lately.


Over the last couple of months, the Teams crew has announced everything from PowerPoint Live, to Live Reactions, 20,000 person broadcasts, and attendee reports. Microsoft Teams fans can limit the bandwidth in their calls when they’re struggling to find a great connection, and you’ll have access to files offline too. There are even various “Approval app” updates to explore and new devices too.


Today, we’re going to be taking a closer look at some of the most significant changes to appear in the Microsoft Teams landscape.


Let’s get started.


Microsoft Teams Webinars and Meetings


Microsoft Teams is essentially the go-to tool for meetings and collaboration, and the latest features will make the software more appealing than ever. Live transcription and speaker attribution mean that you can easily follow the conversations of your colleagues or attendees in real-time. The transcription feature can help people with hearing disabilities, or different levels of language proficiency. Attendees who miss the meeting can also read the transcript to catch up.


Another way to ensure you don’t miss out on meetings is with the “meeting recap” feature. This solution includes a meeting recording, transcript, and any attached files, so everyone stays on the same page. The recap is shared at the end of the meeting in the Chat tap and will be viewable in the Details tab on MS Teams.


Microsoft also announced new ways to access your meetings. There’s a “Meet Now” solution in Outlook for Windows users, which allows you to start an instant meeting from the Calendar tab. You’ll also be able to copy Meet Now links from your calendar and share it with anyone, without starting your meeting.


Customers with audio conferencing enabled for Teams meetings will now also be able to choose whether meeting participant phone numbers appear in the roster view for meetings scheduled in the organisation. You can mask numbers for everyone, or just external users.

Users will also have access to a “bypass” option for the meeting lobby. This feature has been updated to allow for “people in my organization” and “people in my organization, trusted organizations, and guests”, to bypass the lobby. Other updates to the meeting experience include:

  • Touch bar meeting controls on Mac: Touch bars include features like view participants, raise hand, enable video, and mute/ unmute.

  • Dynamic Android meeting experiences: Android users can view speakers, attendees, and content on one screen. You can view up to 30 participants on tablets, or 20 on a smartphone.

  • Outgoing video for safari: Outgoing video in web meetings is available for Safari 14 or higher.

  • Live Events for iPad: iPad users, executives, and sales teams can present live in Teams from an iPad, with quick and simple broadcasting.

  • CVI support: Join Live Events on non-native Teams devices through the Cloud Video Interop option on partner devices.

  • Teams Local Data Centre support: Microsoft is enabling local data centres for Live Events on Microsoft Teams in various new countries including France, South Africa, Germany, South Korea, UAE, and Switzerland.


Microsoft Teams Calling, Chat and Collaboration


There are countless ways to connect through Microsoft Teams, from instant messaging to video. As part of the recent slew of updates, Microsoft introduced voice-enabled channels, which allows connecting of a call queue to channels in Microsoft Teams. You can share information in the channel and take calls in the queue at the same time.


Microsoft also introduced a Survival Branch Appliance (SBA) solution to support critical discussions in the case of an outage. The Teams client can switch automatically to the SBA in the case of an outage with no user action required. Once connectivity is restored, normal functionality resumes.


On the chat and collaboration side of Microsoft Teams, Microsoft introduced additional settings for multiple organisations and accounts. You can now add personal accounts and switch between different organisations in the settings. There’s also new access to up to 250 GB file size support in Microsoft Teams. The application used to support up to 100GB, and the upgrade in size will apply to all Microsoft 365 services including OneDrive and SharePoint.

New Viva experiences mark some of the most exciting changes to the collaborative experience on Microsoft Teams. Viva Connections available for Teams Desktop will allow users to see a curated and company-branded environment that connects relevant conversations, news, and resources.


Viva Insights, from Microsoft Teams, will give individuals, leaders and managers personalised insights and recommendations. The new app within the Teams app bar makes it easy for users with Exchange Online mailboxes to follow up on to-do lists, improve relationships, and protect focus times. Workplace Analytics customers can use Manager and Leader insights to get information on the work patterns of the workplace and identify where changes may need to occur.


Additional Updates Include:

  • Android chat translation: Inline message translation on Android ensures everyone in your Teams environment can understand each other. One click translates foreign languages in chat and channels.

  • Team templates: Admins can now manage team templates with cmdlets in PowerShell, this allows admins to unlock a list of all the available templates in a tenant. You can also get the details of, create, edit or delete templates. Policies are also available to designate which templates should be hidden or shown.

  • File sharing: Users on Microsoft Teams can create shareable links for any file stored in Teams and set appropriate permissions. You’ll also be able to set permissions for files stored in OneDrive or SharePoint when starting a chat or channel conversation.

  • Microsoft Teams SharePoint connections: As you connect your SharePoint solution to Teams, you’ll be able to choose which libraries, lists, and pages you should include in your Teams tabs.

  • Include up to 10,000 users in a team: You can now create org-wide teams that promote better communication and collaboration throughout your organisation. Administrators managing tenants with less than or equal to 100 members can create org-wide teams that sync all tenant members.

  • 25,000 people teams: The Team membership limit has now increased to 25,000 people per individual team, so even more hybrid companies can get involved with Teams.

  • Out of Office messages: You can let your colleagues know when you’re not available by setting “Out of Office” messages. Your message will be delivered whenever someone attempts to reach you via chat, and it appears on your Outlook calendar too.

  • History menu: The new history menu for Teams desktop will display all your recently visited destinations when you hover over the back and forward navigation options.

  • Queue sent messages offline: When you need to connect with colleagues, but you’re offline, Teams can queue messages and send them for you when the network connection is re-established.

  • More labels: Labels in Microsoft Planner will give you more options for organisation. You can add up to 25 labels in different colours to tasks across web and mobile applications.


Microsoft Teams Management and Security


Having full control over your Microsoft Teams ecosystem is essential when it comes to maintaining team productivity and compliance. Microsoft’s recent range of updates includes changes to some of the management features on Teams. For instance, you can now restrict Teams sign-in options for Mac and Windows managed devices. This ensures that employees won’t be able to sign into another company’s tenant using the credentials from the device they use for work.


Microsoft has also announced the arrival of one more device category to the device portfolio now available to manage within the Teams Admin centre. This Teams Display device category will allow IT admins to customise, adjust and automated Teams panel devices.

Another interesting new feature is the arrival of scheduled access reviews for guests within all Teams and Groups. This solution has been applied as a default component of Microsoft Teams and will mean that your Team solution will automatically schedule guest reviews on access all across Teams.


Other major updates to Microsoft Teams management and security elements include:

  • Group policy package assignments: Teams now has the option to assign policy packages to certain groups. Admins can assign a package to a group (like a retail group), and this should make managing the workplace more efficient.

  • Unified experiences: Microsoft announced that it has aligned the experience of creating teams through the Teams Admin Centre to the experience of creating a team in the Teams client. This means that you should have a unified experience when new teams are added, regardless of the interface you use.

  • Updated table of contents: For IT professional audience members to find the content they need quickly; Microsoft introduced an updated landing page for Teams on the docs.microsoft.com space. The company has also made it easier to track MSLearn content and lifecycle information. Government and industry customers will have access to dedicated content.

  • Information Protection: Microsoft Teams with hierarchical sensitivity labels attached to them will now have a new information protection strategy applied. The channel headers will only display the parent label for the channel, rather than the child label. This could mean that if you named your channel Confidential and included “finance” in the child sensitivity label, the channel header would only show “Confidential”.

  • Bounty awards: Microsoft has recently expanded its partnership with the research community, with the introduction of bounty awards for Teams’ desktop security research. This is offered as part of the Microsoft Applications program.


Additional Updates


Aside from all the changes mentioned above, Microsoft also announced further updates to everything from its power platform and custom development solutions to the available certified devices for Teams users.


For Power Platform and custom development users, there are now new mobile device capabilities available in the form of Barcode/QR scanners. You can access these solutions within the Teams Client JavaScript SDK. There’s also the recent release of the new SharePoint Framework version for more extensibility between SharePoint and Microsoft Teams.


For those interested in building their hardware experience out with Microsoft certified devices, there is a selection of new options to choose from via Poly and EPOS.

The EPOS Adapt 1000 Series of headsets is now available for seamless collaboration and communication among Microsoft Teams users. These enhanced headsets come in a variety of shapes and sizes to suit different working styles. A dedicated Teams button ensures you can easily join Teams meetings and calls in seconds. Plus, plug-and-play functionality simplifies setup.


From Poly, there are three new offerings:


Poly C60

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Now certified for Microsoft Teams Rooms as a USB audio solution, this product was previously certified as a Teams IP conference phone. The C60 is now available to configure alongside use with a Teams Room system. NoiseBlock AI from Poly and 22khz sound are among the most eye-catching features.


Poly Studio P15

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The P15 from Poly is a personal USB video bar that offers everything users need to sound and look their best during meetings. High-performance 4K image sensors and camera framing allow you to stay in the frame during any video conversation, even if you need to move around during the discussion. A powerful microphone and speaker setup also deliver fantastic audio, with Acoustic Fence technology and NoiseBlock AI.


Poly Savi 7300 Office

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The leading secure DECT headset for everyday conversations, the Savi 7300 Office is a state-of-the-art wireless solution that meets the highest security standards. This product comes equipped with 265-bit AES encryption for security, as well as a Microsoft Open Office spec, and Poly Acoustic fencing technology. There’s also a dedicated Teams button for quick access to meetings.


If all that wasn’t enough, Microsoft also announced a host of additional updates to specific versions of the Teams client, such as new PowerPoint file sharing and multi-window meetings for Government users. Government customers will also be able to access virtual breakout rooms, shared calendars within Teams channels, Live Reactions, and further Data Loss Prevention tools, among other updates.


Check out the full Microsoft Teams change log to learn more about the countless exciting innovations emerging from Microsoft all the time!


Article by: Rebekah Carter, UC Today


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