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Waiting on 'Teams,' Microsoft Adds to Skype for Business

I received my invitation the other day for Microsoft's Nov. 2 NYC Office event at which CEO Satya Nadella and Office Corporate VP Kirk Koenigsbauer are expected to end the percolating rumors that the company has assembled a team collaboration solution and is ready to take on Slack and all others in this niche.

As we've reported previously, mum's been the official company word on the rumored team collaboration developments, but next week's event certainly seems queued up for an introduction. The invitation screams of it: "Every team is unique," it reads. "They are increasingly global and dynamic. Their desire to connect and create together is universal. Collaboration is their new measure of success at work," it continues, leaving off with the question: "How can we empower every team to achieve more?"

Microsoft-focused tech blog MSPoweruser originally surfaced the idea that Microsoft was soon to release a team collaboration solution, and has done a good job since then of keeping everybody abreast of the latest developments (as reportedly shared from within an inner circle). In a post published earlier this week, deputy editor Mehedi Hassan noted that Microsoft has likely shifted its early working name of "Skype Teams" to "Microsoft Teams" -- and pointed to a login page and new Teams logo. And, he shared this screenshot:

Hasson recapped the highlights of what he'd learned about the team collaboration solution. It will include conversations separated into channels or groups, support direct messaging and threaded conversations, feature deep integration with other Microsoft services, and allow in-app voice and video calling, he wrote.

As we await for the anticipated unveiling of the team collaboration solution, Microsoft continues to beef up its UC and collaboration story in other ways. In an Office Blogs piece posted yesterday, the Skype for Business team announced general availability of its new Mac client, as well as updates to the Skype Operations Framework assets aimed at helping enterprises plan, deliver, and operate the client. This release comes as promised, per an announcement made last month at Ignite, Microsoft's annual customer conference (see related post, "Showtime for Skype for Business Online").

The blog also detailed enhancements for the Skype for Business mobile clients running on Android and iOS devices. The updates include the ability to present PowerPoint files from within the mobile app, ending the need to email files and links for content sharing. Users can grab decks from their cloud drives or, if using Android devices, from local device storage -- and the presentations persist in the meeting's "content bin" for others to download or present, the team wrote.

Skype for Business mobile client users on iOS devices can now take advantage of the Video-based Screen Sharing, or VbSS, which Microsoft said improves the traditional screen-sharing experience by making use of the user datagram protocol (UDP) rather than remote desktop protocol (RDP). The goal is improved video start times, better video quality, and greater reliability, the team said. A version for Android users will follow.

Presumably Microsoft will have more to share for Skype for Business users once it unveils its team collaboration solution. Watch this space!

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