Microsoft are constantly updating their road map and developing their products to create a better user experience for their customers. Currently they have 473 updates in development, 192 being rolled out, and 193 recently launched, all documented in the Microsoft 365 road map. Below we have outlined some new features of Microsoft Teams that have been rolled out this January and other features that are penned for release early this year that you should be aware of.
A few new features have been released late December and early this January specifically to increase the ease of collaboration virtually with your team. The most recent of these is the much-anticipated introduction of Breakout Rooms to the Teams platform. The release of Breakout Rooms to the platform will allow small group break outs to take place during a meeting to encourage more meaningful discussions and allow participants to completing brainstorming sessions as they would usually in person. Microsoft have provided a step-by-step guide on creating and using break out rooms, which can be found here.
As breakout rooms can only be used during a meeting, ensuring that meetings are scheduled at a convenient time for all participants to be ale to join can be difficult. Microsoft is looking to overcome this by having just introduced the Channels Calendars feature. This feature allows you to schedule meetings as a team in a Channel so they can be viewed in one location. Participants can then choose to add these to their personal calendars to ensure they can attend the meeting.
The last noteworthy feature to be added this January is the Approvals option in Teams. Microsoft have described this feature to be able to ‘get to results faster’ and there is the ability to ‘easily create, manage, share, and act on approvals directly from your hub for teamwork’. It was designed to allow teams to keep track of current projects as members can request approvals for work by sharing documents that will include the status, source, and the person who requested and approved each project. Documents will also be able to be rejected and commented on if they are not quite ready for approval. Lastly, all users of the team will be able to view all the documents and their statuses to keep the project on track.
There are more features penned to be released at the latter end of January, including a Present View that will allow presenters to view their slides that are coming up next and any notes that they have made on their slides. This feature will emulate the current Present View in PowerPoint, where viewers of the presentation won’t be able to see the notes of the presenter. Presenter Mode is currently available in Teams in public preview mode.
Meeting Recap is something that will be available for after meetings. Teams will pull together all recordings, chat logs, and files from a meeting that can then be shared with participants. This feature will allow participants to accumulate any action points and information needed for follow up after the meeting.
The last feature to look out for is the new Dynamic View feature, which is penned for release in March this year, that will allow content to be displayed alongside participants video feeds rather than the current view of content and participants in the corner of your screen. The aim of this feature is to create a more interactive environment when someone is presenting as it will also highlight active speakers and allow people to pin speakers next to the content displayed.
Skype for Business End of Life
Microsoft also announced at the end of 2019 that Skype for Business will be retiring on July 31st of this year! This means that any Skype users that have yet to make the transition to Teams should start looking now at how to move over, especially if you still use Skype in your business, your users will need training on how best to use Teams and all the features it has to offer. To see a breakdown of features that Teams has in comparison to Skype please see this blog post from the Microsoft Tech Community here.