Microsoft Teams is 5 years and new features are coming out to support Hybrid Work

On Monday 14th Microsoft Teams was 5 years since it was made generally available. Congratulations, Microsoft Teams! Teams began it’s story almost half a year earlier than that, but GA-date (Generally Available) is when it began it’s journey to become the app for over 270 million monthly users it is today.

It was quite soon when it was realized that Teams will be the hub for teamwork and , like I use to say it, the hub for work. Integrating apps, systems and data in and out of Microsoft 365 and enabling smooth business process automation has made Teams much more than just a chat and meeting application. Teams is where many people spend their days: collaborating, innovating, creating new and especially using Teams as the user interface for various systems they need: line-of-business solutions, business processes and applications.

Of course one proper way to celebrate Teams is a new meeting video background! Go ahead and find Teams Anniversary custom backgrounds from Microsoft site, under Microsoft Teams Anniversary.

From the same location you can also find Allyship for Ukraine custom background to show your support in meetings. Of course I downloaded it.

Microsoft Teams has been developing in quite a fast pace. It has provided us many ways and features how we can work together better and better. And during the pandemic, past two years, the usage rocketed in a very fast pace. It is quite safe to say that Teams has made it possible, for lots of people and organizations, to reduce effects pandemic had. Some companies switched from office to online work in a matter of days. People had to adapt and learn quickly. I think it is safe to say that without Teams it would have ended up in quite a catastrophic way for many organizations. Since pandemic started it was clear that many Teams development efforts shifted their focus to help to cope the hybrid and online world. Meetings and events gained lots of features in a short timespan, virtual consults and anything that helped to reduce pandemic effects seemed to be on top.

Of course when new features are added all the time to the product it can have some side effects. First of all, people can’t stay up to the date with the change. If organization doesn’t have a good and established champions and change management network it can cause overwhelming situations. The second one is of course performance. Microsoft Teams performance has been improved several times over the course of time. Most of users may not realize that because change has happened gradually, but if you were to compare Teams performance a year ago to today you would see a difference. Finally, Teams roadmap that has had a few side-effects along the way as well. But as annoying as it is that when features are moved forward I have to say I rather see them released working code instead of buggy versions.

I am very happy and passionate how Microsoft Teams is continuing to change how we work and meet our needs for work. Hybrid world is here to stay and Microsoft Teams & Microsoft 365 are bringing new features to help with that.

I am looking forward for various features that has been announced / mentioned earlier by Microsoft, for example

  • Metaverse / Microsoft Mesh for Teams – enabling immersive meetings. This should be in preview at the end of this half-year, so by June/July 2022.
  • Microsoft Loop for new kind of collaboration, co-creation and way to work with applications along with Context IQ to help discoverability.
  • Microsoft Whiteboard that works as and with Loop.
  • New Microsoft Teams desktop client “V2”. Teams consumer version in W11 has very good performance so I am looking forward for getting the version that would support enterprise use. The new client has a very different architecture (aka modern) than the current version (aka old).
  • And other numerous numerous features like support for multiple accounts, streaming events to the social out of Teams directly, managed event stage and the list is quite endless.

What’s coming out soon to Hybrid Work and Microsoft Teams

Nicole Herskowitz, Vice President, Microsoft Teams, published a blog post that announced that several features are going to be rolling out soon (within 1-3 months). These features and also what else is on Team’s upcoming list are of course affected by freshly released 2022 Work Trend Index. These researches provide important insights and requirements for solutions and practices that are needed in the Hybrid World .. and in the future. Making Hybrid Work Work.

Snip from Microsoft 2022 Work Trend Index
Snip from Microsoft blog post “Microsoft announces new research and technology to make hybrid work work

Metaverse is there as well part of the chapter 4 – Flexible work doesn’t have to mean “always on”. I fully agree that that title.

Snip from Microsoft 2022 Work Trend Index

“Avatars and the metaverse bring us one step closer to making people feel like they’re together even when they are physically apart,”

says Mar Gonzalez Franco, principal researcher at Microsoft Research

When I have been consulting and advising organizations about the hybrid work and the metaverse I have to say I am not surprised about these findings in the 2022 Work Trend Index.

Today, we are announcing new product innovations designed to help make hybrid work work. Whether it’s creating more engaging meeting experiences, enabling collaboration with external partners or customers, or giving you the flexibility to work on your terms, these new features and solutions address the new expectations people have for the workplace.

Nicole Herskowitz, Vice President, Microsoft Teams
  • Outlook RVSP to meetings and if you are going to be present online or in-person. Coming during April-June 2022.
  • Microsoft Teams Rooms Front Row is finally in preview and will get new features this year. Companion mode (joining your device to Teams Room) is joining the room audio off, camera on (but your video will be hidden from the room screen), providing easier way to use live reactions, whiteboarding and sharing is coming soon soon (again: April-June 2022). There are also other features coming to Surface Hub ( Smart Camera) and to Teams Rooms.
  • PowerPoint Cameo will be generally available during April-June 2022. Unfortunately the blog post doesn’t mention will that be the time also when Cameo would work with PowerPoint Live but I would imagine that because it is mentioned with the Recording Studio.
  • PowerPoint Recording Studio will be supporting Cameo during April-June 2022 as well. That chapter also mentions “When it’s time to deliver your message, share your presentation with PowerPoint Live in Teams, whether or not you’re attending the meeting.”. So it does look like that PowerPoint Live support for Cameo might be happening in the same time-frame. PowerPoint Recording Studio is now generally available.
  • Speaker Coach is coming during April-June 2022 as well
  • Language Interpretation will allow meeting organizer to ” assign interpreters and select up to 16 source and target language combinations, while attendees will hear the translation with the original audio playing at a lower volume in the background.”.
  • New Whiteboard will enable use of whiteboard with external attendees in Teams meeting (aka share with externals in a meeting) and other features. Coming out April-June 2022.
Finally share existing Whiteboard to Teams meeting is starting to emerge. Should be available Q2/2022.
  • Loop Components will appear in Outlook mail soon. This will be first available to Office Insiders. To get access to the latest Loop components in Outlook, sign up to become an Office Insider.
  • Operator Connect Mobile preview beginning Q3 / 2022 and GA during H2/2022
  • Viva Insights Inspiration Library ” helps customers turn insights into action with access to thought leadership and best practices from Harvard Business Review, Thrive, and Microsoft”. This is something that will need Viva Insights Premium/Advanced licensing. Preview starts rolling soon and will be available worldwide in 11 supported languages.

All these features are great and I can’t wait to get my hands on these, but of course Shared Channels – along with Loops in Outlook – have a big potential to change how we collaborate, co-create and innovate in the hybrid world. Synchronously and Asynchronously. And in the Metaverse.

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