Microsoft strengthens Teams with new presentation tools and PowerPoint integration
Microsoft’s Teams app for work is about to get super powerful. At its Ignite conference today, the company announced a series of updates to its video chat tool to make it more useful and customizable. It also unveiled new speakers designed for teams with special features for transcriptions.
First, given that we’re clearly not going to return to large-scale in-person events anytime soon, Microsoft is making Teams a more powerful webinar platform. You can now have up to a thousand participants per meeting both inside and outside your organization. There will also be more tools like personalized registration, host controls to disable participant chat and video, as well as “rich presentation options”. You’ll also get post-event reports to see how your webinar went.
If you need to reach even more people, Teams can switch to a read-only broadcast mode that will support up to 10,000 participants. By the end of 2021, Microsoft is bringing that number to 20,000. It also integrates Dynamics 365 Marketing with Teams to make it easier to manage and review attendee information so you can better engage with them before, during, and after each. event.
The company is also launching Teams Connect, which will allow you to share channels with people outside your organization. In these shared workspaces, users can chat, meet and share documents, as well as collaborate on applications and co-author documents in real time. Teams Connect is available as a private preview today, and Microsoft has said it “will be rolled out widely later this calendar year.”
One of Microsoft’s most popular products is PowerPoint, and it’s integrating better and better with Teams. With the new PowerPoint live, which is now available in Teams, presenters can advance their slides whenever they want while viewers can go private or rewind at their own pace. It is important to note that participants can also use the screen reader themselves to navigate the presentation at their own pace. Presenters will be able to see their content, notes, meeting attendees, and chat on one screen.
Microsoft also wants to make it easier for you to see what you need on Teams. It adds a Presenter view for presenters to “customize the way their video feed and content appear to the audience.” There are three options here: Standout, Reporter, and Side-by-side. Standout puts the speaker’s video stream in the foreground while Side-by-side displays the presenter’s video alongside their slides. This feature will launch with Standout mode this month, and Microsoft is announcing that Reporter and Side-by-side will be available soon.
If you can’t decide which mode to choose, you can also let Teams decide. Microsoft is officially introducing Dynamic View, which it kind of previewed back in January. With this, the app will change and move the speaker frames and windows as people talk, start presenting or turn on their cameras. There’s also a new option to place the attendee gallery at the top of the meeting, closer to where your laptop’s webcam is located so you can “maintain a natural look,” Microsoft said. The dynamic view is in the coming weeks.
When we finally get back to meetings in physical meeting rooms, teams will have new gallery views to make things easier to see. A new Ensemble mode and a large gallery will allow people to see everyone in a room. Also, if there are multiple screens available or if people join the call remotely, they will all be able to see the same content.
Finally, in addition to all these updates to its software, Microsoft is also announcing new hardware. It unveiled new Teams smart speakers that look like previous Echo Dots with a pop-up control panel. Microsoft says its speakers can identify the voices of up to 10 people speaking in a Teams room for more accurate attribution in meeting transcripts.
Video conferencing will clearly continue to be the primary way we work with our colleagues for a while, so it’s smart of Microsoft to keep improving Teams. These integrations with Office apps and new tools could make Teams a more powerful service than competitors like Google’s Meet, Zoom, and Webex.
Update: This article has been modified to reflect changes in the availability of Dynamic View and the 20,000 attendee limit for read-only webinars.
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