Will Holland is a Principal Software Engineer at ThreeWill. Will has proven to be adept at understanding a client’s needs and matching them with the appropriate solution. Recently he’s developed a passion for working with .NET, MVC, and cloud-based solutions such as Microsoft Azure and Microsoft 365.
Last evening, Nicole Herskowitz (GM, Microsoft Teams), unveiled several imminent and upcoming features that will be making their way to Microsoft Teams.
If you spend half as much time as we do in Teams, then you’ll likely find this as exciting as I did.
Below is my recap of Nicole’s presentation, with a healthy smattering of personal opinions. If you’re interested in hearing it from the horse’s mouth, here’s a link to the presentation (may require registration). Please note that all of the images shown in this blog post were taken from Nicole’s presentation.
Feature #1 – Dynamic View
The first feature Nicole revealed was “Dynamic View”, which she described as a view that “automatically adjusts the meeting experience based on the participants and content.”
Feature #1.5 – Updated Views
I call this feature 1.5, because Nicole did not give it the proper “I’m happy to announce” slide, but instead just slid it in while talking about Dynamic view. I, however, feel that this is a HUGE improvement to the meeting experience and is worth calling out.
Rather than the standard meeting view we’ve all become accustomed to, Gallery (and Large gallery) & Together mode have been updated. There’s also a new Gallery On Top option, which is SUPER nice…unless your webcam is on the bottom of your laptop bezel, I suppose.
Feature #2 – PowerPoint Live
To set up this announcement, Nicole describes the “nightmares” of accidentally sharing your desktop or the wrong screen and the difficulties of transitioning between presenters. We then get to see a new-ish presenter view showing the gallery on top, with a large image on the left (which we’re told is what the attendees see), the speaker’s notes on the right, as well as the preview of the upcoming slides. Nicole also mentions that you can view your timing, but I didn’t see that in what was shown.
As for the transition, they’ve basically added the “Take Control” option I’m used to seeing on full-screen sharing. I’m not sure if this is actually a new feature, or just new to me. Still cool to know though.
Feature #3 – Presenter Mode
Earlier, I mentioned a previous life spent live-streaming gaming. One thing I always loathed about Teams is that, as an attendee, it was extremely difficult to keep track of who was speaking when something was being shared. As a presenter/performance-artist, I also like to be front-and-center when I’m speaking. I have a very dry/sarcastic sense of humor, which my wife just adores (that’s sarcasm, btw), and if you can’t see the grin on my face when I say something…well it doesn’t quite have the same effect.
Thankfully, we’re getting three new presenter layouts that may just solve this problem. I can’t wait to play with them and see what options are at my disposal.
The “Stand-out” layout
Jared Spataro (@jared_spataro) showed this interesting layout off during his keynote. It basically overlays your face on top of your content. As someone who used to live stream video games, this brings back some memories. However, as one of my colleagues commented, you’d better make sure your content accounts for your head blocking part of the screen.
The “Reporter” layout
I love this layout, personally, as it really does harken back to my Twitch days. It puts me, the presenter, in front of the content in a way that feels more “produced”. Can’t wait.
The “Side-by-Side” layout
I like this layout a lot, too. It doesn’t feel quite as “produced” as the last layout, but it’s great if the “Auto-greenscreen” Teams use does not work so well for you (hint: invest in some lighting).
Feature #4 – Webinars in Microsoft Teams
There’s a lot to unpack in this one, and Nicole barraged us with a list of features that will be present with Webinars. The animation below shows all of them, but here’s a rundown of what we’ll be able to do soon: schedule a webinar from Teams, customize registrations and send invitations, live polls, chat & moderated Q&A, additional moderation controls, and attendee reporting.
If you’re a Dynamics365 user, Webinars will also integrate with that platform to enable you to perform follow-up marketing activities. Nicole also said that if you use “other” CRM platforms, you’d be able to “take your webinar contacts with you”.
Webinars will support a massive number of participants. Up to 1000 attendees in an interactive webinar, and 20,000 with a “view-only” broadcast.
All of this will be included in your E3 or Business Premium subscription!
Feature #5 – Microsoft Teams Connect (Private Preview)
While this is #5 on the list, this feature is definitely #1 in my heart. As someone who works with many clients across an equal number of M365 tenants, collaborating with those users has always been a challenge.
We try to keep things simple by switching from the ThreeWill tenant to the client tenant, but collaboration that way isn’t as “real-time” as you’d like. In most cases, clients will resort to email to get our attention quickly, and that’s definitely not something I want to see when I’m trying to extoll the benefits of Microsoft Teams.
If only there were a way to have Teams from other Tenants appear right alongside my internal Teams. Well, there will be soon, and I can’t wait!
Feature #6 – Invite-Only Meeting Controls
Have you ever sent an invite to a colleague with the intent of it being a 1:1? Maybe you want to give (or get) some candid feedback, get some facetime with your boss, or talk smack about that person? Then, meeting time comes, and four other people join the meeting? Ugh.
Well, soon you’ll be able to prevent others from joining meetings. It’s a huge win for us smack talkers and teacher’s pets.
Feature #7 – End-to-End Encryption
This announcement took me by surprise, but mostly because I had just always assumed that voice and video calls were already being encrypted. Turns out I was wrong (it happens). So, if you’re meeting to discuss sensitive data and you’re concerned about the security of those calls, say no more.
This will be rolled out starting with just 1:1 audio and video calling and will be expanded to full-on Teams meetings in the future.
What do you think?
That was a lot of new features. I love, love, love the Teams Connect feature and I’m super excited about the improvements to presenter mode. Unfortunately, I’m still having to hold my breath about being able to separate the webcams from the presentation (C’mon already! I’m turning purple here).
Tell us what you think about these new features? What got you the most excited? Did anything disappoint?
Share your thoughts in the comments below!