Jeremy: Coming up, we take a closer look at Microsoft Teams, the latest edition to Microsoft 365 that makes it easier for you to chat in groups, socialize, and collaborate. We’ll walk through the experience of chatting, sharing files, and hosting online meeting, plus how your teams can connect to external services. If you’re an IT admin, we’re going to show you how you can configure Microsoft Teams for your organization.
I’m joined today by Dan Stevenson, one of the product leaders for Microsoft Teams. Welcome.
Dan: Thanks for having me.
Jeremy: When you think about Microsoft 365, it’s really built for collaboration. We’ve got applications that span email, file sharing, social and communications, but what changes with Microsoft Teams?
Dan: That’s right, Jeremy. Office has a bunch of different options for collaboration. With Microsoft Teams we’re bringing all these tools together with a real focus on how people work together in a team. We start with chat, we build it around chat. Chat’s this really effective, natural way for teams to communicate. It’s fast, it’s friendly, it’s informal. Around that we have files from your SharePoint team site, we have notes from OneNote, we have Planner so you can have project plans from Microsoft Planner, we even pulled in your Exchange calendar. It comes all together in this chat center team workspace that persists over time.
Jeremy: It’s really a great hub for teamwork, but how easy is it to set up the experience?
Dan: It’s actually really simple to get going. Let me show you. Here I am on the Microsoft 365 homepage and you see we have a tile for teams in the app launcher. Go ahead and click on that and I’m going to open up the teams web app which you can also get to by going to Teams.Microsoft.com. I’m a new user in this web app and so in the upper right there I have a button to download the desktop client. We can go ahead and click that. I actually prefer to use the desktop client. It gives me a single sign on, better caching, better performance. We have clients for Mac, we also have clients for Windows and Android and iPhone.
I’ve got the client artery installed on my machine so I’m just going to go over to my other desktop here, go to start teams, up comes the desktop app. Here I am in Microsoft Teams. On the left side you can see that I’ve got a main navigation bar here with activity, chats, teams, meetings and files. Down this column here I’ve got all the different teams I’m on including channels. Channels are this really convenient way to organize the different messages within a team. You might have a couple teams. Within each team you might have a few channels. It really depends on how things go and what the culture of team is. If there’s an unread message in a channel it shows up as bold and if I’m @mentioned a message is sent as important or if there’s a meeting going on, other decorations show up as well which I’ll talk about in a second.
Let’s go in and see how easy it is to chat. Let’s just send a quick chat message here. I’m going to send “Hello world,” send that out. The thing you notice right away is that the bottom of every message there’s a reply button so I can reply here, I can reply to any other message, and we have this simple threading built in right away. If I really like this message, it looks like a few people beat me to the punch, I can click the thumbs up and like it. Let’s say I want to make sure you’re actually paying attention, Jeremy, because I know you might not be.
Jeremy: And I’m not.
Dan: You’re absolutely not, so I’m going to @mention you. Here we go, @jeremy, and it auto completes from my address book and I send you an @mention. Then on your screen …
Jeremy: I see my notification here in the lower right hand corner. I click on that. Are you there? Yes I am, but I see here there’s a bookmark icon that says save. What do I do with that?
Dan: Go ahead and click that and it’s going to save it into a favorites in the upper left. I also see that you’re modeling the dark theme there that’s a personal choice. It’s pretty popular with a lot of folks on our own development team actually. I can also use rich text for more formal posts, something where I want to, say, give it a subject, put in some bulleted lists, some numbers, things like that. “I took my daughter to the state fair the other day and she went sheep riding. We had some-”
Jeremy: You had fun?
Dan: It was awesome. “We had some rules for that. Hold on tight, hold on tighter, just in case wear body armor.” This is a pretty important message so I’m going to mark that as important as well. This is really convenient for when you want to send something a little more than just a short blurb back and forth. You also see, as things are going by on my screen, that I’m getting notifications, I’m getting @mentions, everything is badged and easy to find for me.
Jeremy: That smiley face that we saw in terms of the replies and some of that dialogue there, is that just a set of emojis?
Dan: It’s a lot more than that. Let’s take a look. We’ve got emojis of course, but we also have animated GIFS, we have stickers that you can caption, all sorts of things. Let’s grab some stickers. We’ll get this happy robot here. We’ll say something exciting about … “Microsoft Team is great.” Let’s drop that right in there.
This is a … It’s not just for fun, it’s actually part of the social dynamics in a team. It goes beyond just plain text and a screen. It makes it a little more fluid and informal and friendly for a team to get together and really work in a chat environment.
Jeremy: Looks like a really great set of experiences to start chatting and really share ideas with your team members, but how do I go about actually collaborating on a set of docs?
Dan: I’m going to switch to the partner marketing event channel here and you can already see there’s some files that have been uploaded. Let’s grab another one in there. I’m going to go to my OneDrive for Business. I’ve got a Tips for Microsoft Teams file that I want to share with everybody, put a quick message on it if I want, and send it. That file got posted into the chat, but it did a lot more than that. It actually got uploaded to a SharePoint team site that we create every time we create a team because we’re based on Microsoft 365 groups. Within that team site we have a folder for every channel, and in that folder, I’ll go up here and click on files, you can see all the files that have been uploaded for that channel.
Now let’s go a little further here. I think these tips are pretty important, everybody should be reading them, so I’m going to actually click on that and make it into a tab. What that’s going to do is add it across the top there right next to conversation files and notes. Anytime anybody comes into this channel they see that pin there. This is a great way for me to personalize the channel, personalize the team, just for me, just for my team.
Jeremy: You’ve pinned a file and your files basically going to a doc library in SharePoint that’s been created for that channel, but I see notes here as well.
Dan: Yeah, we sure do. We’ve got notes where you can go into OneNote and I can create a notebook page. Perhaps I want to create something about a marketing plan that we have coming up. I can edit that in here. It’s a really nice web editor we built straight into Microsoft Teams or I can open it up in OneNote. A few more tab options we have here as well, of course I can add Planner here, I can add Power BI, any Office document, SharePoint Doc library, and a lot more coming soon that we can add in there.
Jeremy: Earlier I noticed there was a video icon. What does that do?
Dan: That’s for meetings of course. I can click on that and I start an ad hoc meeting in the channel. I’m going to go ahead and start that up here. Anybody who’s in the channel, or actually in Microsoft Teams in my team, is going to see a notification that there’s a meeting going on. They’re not automatically joined to it but I can click on somebody and bring them in, so I’ll bring you in. I’ll see if a couple of other folks can join here. We’ve got a bunch of people joining in here, up to 4 videos will show side by side and then if more people join we’ll have more over time. If people chat in the meeting we’ll see that those chat messages show up, then once I hang up I have this record of the meeting in my chat history so I can go back and see if there were notes that were taken our there were documents that were shared or anything like that. It shows up in the history for that meeting.
Jeremy: It looks like a really easy way to spin up impromptu meetings, but what if I want to schedule a meeting?
Dan: We’ve got that too. I’m going to go over here and click on meetings and it’s pulling all my meetings down from my Exchange calendar. I can click to join a meeting if it’s online and Skype for Business, or in Microsoft Teams. If I want to create a new meeting all I do is click this button down here and it schedules a new meeting within Microsoft Teams.
Jeremy: Everything here by default is shared with the team, but what if I don’t want to share with everyone on the team and just have one on one conversations or chat with external users?
Dan: A lot of work actually does happen in smaller conversations. Let’s go over here to chats. You can see I’ve got a bunch of one on one chats going on, even group chats. I’ve got one going on with you here. You can see that it works very similarly to the channel conversation that we had within the team. In fact, I’ve got the same kind of workspace built around my one on one chat so I’ve got files and notes. I can see an org chart, I can even see an activity feed of everything you’ve done on Microsoft Teams, and on the top right of course I can do an ad hoc video call or audio call with you.
Jeremy: Great stuff. What if I want to bring in another service into the team chat?
Dan: That fits really well with our hub model. We start with chat, around that we have files, notes and tabs, then we have connectors which let you bring in external services. Let me go over here, back into my event channel here, and I’m going to click on dot, dot, dot and go to connectors. You see here I’ve a list of all the different connectors we have available. A lot of these are for development teams, Visual Studio, Get Hub, that kind of thing, we also have some fun ones. They’re more general purpose ones like Twitter and Bing News.
Jeremy: Great list of connectors that you have there, but how easy is it to pull that into my feed?
Dan: I’m going to just add a Twitter one here. Let’s go ahead and get that going here. What’s your Twitter handle there?
Dan: All right. Let’s grab your mentions and retweets. We’ll do this as soon as they come in so we know the moment something’s going on in the Twitterverse that impacts Microsoft Mechanics. We’ll save that, close out of here, and you can see we’ve already started getting some coming in. Here’s one about migrating your OneDrive for Business files and a couple of other posts as well that came in.
Jeremy: Does this work also on a mobile device?
Dan: Yeah, it sure does. Let me show you here. Here I am in my phone. I’ve got my alerts, I’ve got chats on my private 101 and group chats, I’ve got my teams, so I want to bring something up in a channel, I can do that. I even have files, so if I want to bring up a file I got it right there within the app, Microsoft Teams on my phone. Of course, with push notifications, I’m never more than a buzz or a ring away from my team.
Jeremy: It’s really great for keeping up with your team on the go, but switching gears for a second, what’s the story for IT admins? I know a lot of people are watching today that are admins. What kind of controls have you put in place in terms of managing the implementation and the roll out of Microsoft Teams?
Dan: We didn’t forget our admins. First, Microsoft Teams is part of the Microsoft 365 suite plans, like Business Premium in E3, second, as I said earlier, we’re built on top of Microsoft 365 Groups which gives us a lot of IT capabilities right out of the box. We’ve got an admin UI. I’ll show you here, I’m in the O365 home page, I’m going to click on admin and I’m going to go into the Microsoft 365 admin center and under services and add-ins over here, down there at the bottom of the screen you see Microsoft Teams. Go ahead and open that up and this is the very important first step you need to take. During our preview period we’re off by default so we want to make sure that everybody turns us on and starts using Microsoft Teams within their company.
We have a few more settings of course. You can do things like manage the showing of the org chart notifications, feed back … If you want to manage who can actually create a group you actually go to the Microsoft 365 groups control panel. Because we’re based on O365 groups, we get a lot of benefits from that. Say you want to decide whether or not you can have screen sharing or video in a meeting, we have some settings for that, then in messaging, we know that people like the GIFs and the stickers in the meetings, but it may not be for every team, so we give you some options to turn those on or off, I always like to turn them on of course, and you can do a content rating depending on the sensitivities within your company. We have a tabs switch so you can decide whether or not you want to allow tabs to show up, then down here we have some settings that let you configure bots.
Jeremy: What are the bots about?
Dan: Bots in Microsoft Teams let you interact with apps and services directly from a chat. We’re working with companies like Poly, Maycam and Statsbot to name just a few, and you’ll see these lighting up in Microsoft Teams over the coming months. Our help system is actually also a bot called Tbot. You should try and chat up Tbot if you have any questions. Bot are also a great way for any developer to integrate a service directly into Microsoft Teams using the Microsoft bot framework. We can probably go on another 20 minutes just on that.
Jeremy: For those viewers at home interested in terms of security and compliance, policies that we’re meeting, kind of the controls there, what are we doing for Microsoft Teams?
Dan: We’re a part of Microsoft 365 so we’re covered by the O365 compliance framework. That includes things like SOC 2. Because we’re based on SharePoint and OneDrive for Business you get all the security and compliance controls that you already have for files. For chat messages we’re working on archiving any discovery via Exchange.
Jeremy: What else can we expect? What are you working on in the future in terms of taking Microsoft Teams further?
Dan: We just launched, but we’re constantly updating Microsoft Teams. We’re working on better support for different types of teams and organizations and lots more. We’re also going to be announcing a lot more integrations via tabs, connectors, and bots, both from Microsoft and our partners over the coming months.
Jeremy: Real useful stuff. I’m watching this at home, how can I try this out?
Dan: First thing is, if you’re an admin, turn on Microsoft Teams for your tenant just like I showed you, then to use it, look for the tile on the Office home page. Better yet, point your browser to Teams.Microsoft.com. Get your team together and get started. Our preview’s available worldwide in 19 different languages. For more info check out the link below.
Jeremy: It’s a really great overview, Dan. Thanks for joining us today. Also, don’t forget to keep checking back to Microsoft Mechanics for the latest in tech updates. Thanks for watching and goodbye for now.