Published 16 Aug 2020

Software giant Microsoft has added a number of new features to its Teams online collaboration software through a new Advanced Communication plan, which can be added to any Office 365 subscription on a per user basis, with a 60-day free trial also being available.

Among the new features is the ability to host meetings with as many as 20,000 participants. It will of course become impractical to manage individual speakers on this scale, however, so a meeting will switch from interactive mode to view only when the number of participants exceeds 1,000.

Administrators will also soon gain the ability to add corporate imagery to a branded meeting lobby, with this ability being extended later this year to the main meeting experience. New features are also being aimed at enterprises, such as establishing customer engagement workflows and a compliance policy for call recording.

With homeworking set to continue being commonplace even if the novel coronavirus is eradicated, Microsoft is also positioning 1:1 calling within Teams to enable employees to be contactable wherever they may be. This aims to replace traditional telephony, which requires employees to be present at their desk or at least have a redirect set up to forward calls.

With Teams Calling, employees will be able to make or receive calls from wherever they are and with any device, as well as move effortlessly between one-to-one calls and larger meetings as required. To accompany this re-imagining of the telephone, Microsoft is also introducing the new dedicated all-in-one Microsoft Teams displays. These desktop devices will feature an ambient touchscreen display and enable high-quality video conferencing and voice calling, as well as hands-free operation through Microsoft Cortana. To enable customers to continue using existing equipment, however, Microsoft has extended its support for Skype for Business phones and added support in Teams for SIP phones from various manufacturers.

Microsoft Teams General Manager Nicole Herskowitz writes about this on the Microsoft 365 blog:

“When using Teams, you are getting best-in-class calling capabilities—validated by Team’s leader position in both the Gartner Magic Quadrant and Forrester Wave reports. With all your communication tools in one place, Teams Calling makes it easy to call anyone, anywhere with any device. And, you can also move seamlessly between chat, calling, and meetings based on your needs. This saves IT time, reduces costs associated with multiple point solutions, and diminishes the need for employee training. Teams Calling is a secure, robust solution that is being used by both large call centres and individuals alike.”

If you are interested in any of the new features but still haven’t made the jump to Microsoft 365, we at Pro-Networks can help in a variety of ways. With our IT support and services, we can ensure that the migration to Office 365 goes as smoothly as possible, and we can offer ongoing support after that. We can even handle the licensing and administration for you as well.

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