Microsoft Expands Teams with Calling, and More

Continuing to deliver on the roadmap Microsoft laid out this past fall for its team collaboration app, Teams, the company has released new capabilities aimed at making the app the primary client for placing calls within Office 365.

Teams now supports a full slate of calling features, as Microsoft announced in a company blog. These include call history, hold/resume, speed dial, transfer, forwarding, caller ID masking, extension dialing, multi-call handling, simultaneous ringing, voicemail, and text telephone support for the deaf, hard of hearing, or speech impaired. Microsoft began rolling out the new capabilities yesterday.

Taking advantage of calling in Teams requires use of Phone System (formerly Cloud PBX), included in the Office 365 E5 license and offered as an add-on in other licensing plans. In addition, users need a subscription to a Calling Plan (formerly PSTN Calling) for users, Microsoft said.

With the Phone System-Calling Plan combo, an enterprise can give each Office 365 user a phone number for making and receiving internal and external calls via the Teams client. In other words, no more telephony hardware required.

The calling capabilities follow on a variety of October and November updates for Teams, as discussed in a separate Microsoft blog. The updates include a new PowerShell module for configuring and management of Teams; the ability to store Teams data locally in the U.K.; and support for conditional access on Macs.

In addition, November updates feature the ability to better understand Teams use through two new usage reports, Anne Michels, senior product marketing manager for Microsoft Teams, wrote. With the Microsoft Teams user activity report, IT admins get a look at the most common activities users perform in Teams. How many people engage in a chat in a given channel, how many communicate via private chat, and how many people participate in calls or meetings are common metrics available for this usage report, she said. The second new report provides admins with information on how users are connecting to Teams, including via mobile app.

The fall updates also bring a slew of new capabilities for users, Michels said. The updates:

  • Give more control to team owners as to who can post to the General channel that serves to provide an overview and other high-level information for teams. Team owners can decide whether they want to allow all team members to post to the General channel or limit posting.
  • Provide the ability to leave group chats via a menu click
  • Feature a redesigned Settings menu aimed at simplifying how users manage their preferences
  • Attach a "New" badge to tabs when added to a team channel. Once the user clicks on the new tab, the badge disappears
  • Expand maximum team size to 2,500 members

Learn more about Team Collaboration at Enterprise Connect 2018, March 12 to 15, in Orlando, Fla. Register now using the code NOJITTER to save an additional $200 off the Advance Rate or get a free Expo Plus pass.

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