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Microsoft Details Teams Updates at Ignite

Intelligent Speakers in workspace_Under embargo until March 2 at 6am PT.png

Employees using a Microsoft Teams intelligent speaker in their office.

Microsoft Teams intelligent speakers announced at Ignite 2021. 

During its Ignite event today, Microsoft announced a host of updates for its team collaboration platform Teams, its employee experience platform Viva, and Outlook.
First, Microsoft revealed Microsoft Teams Connect, which allows enterprises to connect with external partners via shared Teams channels. Within these Teams Connect channels, collaborators can chat, meet, and share documents. Teams Connect is available for public preview, with general availability to follow later in the year, Microsoft said.
For Teams meetings, the updates include:
  • PowerPoint Live — Now GA, PowerPoint Live in Teams allows presenters to lead meetings with notes, PowerPoint slides, and participants all from a single view.
  • Presenter mode — With presenter mode, meeting presenters can customize how their video feed and content appear with three presenting options: Standout, Reporter, and Side-by-side. Standout allows a speaker's video feed to appear in front of the content, Reporter shows content above a presenter’s shoulder, and Side-by-side features the presenter's video feed and content next to each other, Microsoft explained. The Standout option will be GA this month, and Reporter and Side-by-side will follow.
  • Dynamic view — With Dynamic view, Microsoft will automatically arrange a meeting layout to boost the viewing experience. As people join a video meeting or as they speak, Teams will adjust the meeting layout, Microsoft said. Another option will allow users to place the participant gallery at the top of the meeting window to maintain natural eye contact. Dynamic view will be GA next month.
  • Invite-only meetings — With invite-only meetings, hosts can better control who joins a meeting and ensure that only intended participants join a meeting.
  • A disable video feature — Slated for GA the first half of 2021, this feature is intended to limit potential meeting disruptions, Microsoft said.
  • End-to-end encryption (E2EE) for 1:1 unscheduled Teams calls — Available in preview first half of 2021, the initial release will allow admins to specify which users can use E2EE for 1:1 unscheduled calls, Microsoft said. E2EE will be available for scheduled calls and online meetings at a later date, the company said.
  • Teams Multi-Geo support — This feature will allow multinational enterprises to have greater control over Teams data, down to the team and user level, and where it is stored, Microsoft said. Teams Multi-Geo support will be GA in the first half of the year.
  • More gallery views for Teams Rooms —Together Mode and large gallery view options are now GA for Teams Rooms.
For its employee experience platform, Viva, Microsoft shared several updates, which are:
  • A new home tab, coming next month, will allow users to see pending tasks, send praise to a colleague, and take a virtual breathing break during the workday.
  • Viva Connections is now available as part of existing SharePoint licenses.
  • Viva Insights is now in public preview; starting next month, the virtual commute feature will be rolling out as a part of this app.
  • Viva Learning will be entering public preview in April, with GA expected later this year.
Microsoft also shared several device certification announcements, which include:
  • Intelligent speakers — Available for private preview later in 2021, Teams-certified intelligent speakers will be able to identify and differentiate the voices of up to 10 people in a Teams Room via advanced speech recognition technology. Speaker names and profiles will be added to meeting transcripts, Microsoft said.
  • Monitors and other video devices — The Dell Video Conferencing Monitor and the Poly Studio P21 are the first Microsoft-certified monitors, Microsoft shared. Additionally, Microsoft revealed that Poly's P15 Video Bar and the Cam130 by Aver are now Teams-certified, as well.
Lastly, Microsoft introduced a couple of calendar management and task scheduling updates for Outlook. First, an update to the Outlook calendar adds a free form view for web users. And with the calendar board view, users can customize their calendars, files, reminders, and to-do list in a single view. Second, suggested times for mobile Outlook will be rolling out to business customers this month. When a mobile Outlook user schedules a meeting, Outlook will leverage AI to suggest a time that works best for all meeting participants, Microsoft said.