Microsoft Teams Demos – up close and personal

The Microsoft Teams Roadmap was published this week (Oct 24) and some of the items are already appearing in the Message Center of our tenants. While at MSIgnite, I had the opportunity to talk with four Program Managers for Microsoft Teams about their announcements that week. Messaging, Calls, Meetings and Mobile all had a mention in sessions and in most cases, had a dedicated session to deep dive into features and roadmap items. I didn’t manage to get to their sessions and intended to watch the recordings after the conference. But in 40 min, I was brought up to speed and could see the overall vision of what’s coming.

I recorded each of the demos and discussions. The first discussion about Messaging was live streamed and the bandwidth was poor. While the demo isn’t clear, listen to the audio. Features and the roadmap are discussed, and a few items coming that aren’t on the roadmap.

 

Messaging in Microsoft Teams

In Microsoft Teams, everything centres around conversations and chat. When a team member needs to catch up on a conversation, they can find and read a thread. If a subject used or a document has been discussed, it makes the conversation easier to find. Two new capabilities will simplify sharing a conversation, so that a team member can proactively point someone to a conversation to read.

Again, apologies for the quality of this first video. The audio is worth listening to and the following videos are better quality. 

  • Share Chat history when adding participants. The Chat space is where one might hold conversations with one or a few people in their team. The conversation hasn’t been posted in the channel, because it isn’t intended to be public to the team. When a new person is added to a Chat conversation, it creates an entirely separate thread. This is different behaviour to Outlook and Yammer, where the conversation history is included in the thread for new participants.
    Soon when you add a person to a Chat, you will be able to include conversation history in the thread. Share all the chat history or just the last couple of days. While it appears the history is being copied to a new thread, it is actually being referenced from the original thread. Any images and files in the conversation history will be shared too.
  • Copy link to any message in a conversation. Sometimes we simply want to point a person to a conversation thread or message. One way to do this is to @mention someone in a message, saying “read this”.
    A more elegant way will be coming soon, where you can copy a link to any message. When you paste the link into the conversation, it will give a reference to which channel the conversation came from, the time and the first few sentences of the message. Clicking on the message will take the reader to the original message. This has been a feature in Yammer and other social platforms and it is good to see it coming to Microsoft Teams.

Calls and PSTN Integration

Microsoft Teams want to be able to offer the same Call and PSTN capabilities that Skype for Business Online provide. The two platforms have similarities but are different at the core. Organisations will be able to run both Skype for Business and Microsoft Teams, with some interop in place. Features have been developed to make the shift from Skype to Teams easier.

  • Bring your existing Skype for Business contact list into MSTeams.  Any contacts that you have added to Skype for Business can be imported into Teams. Though conversation history won’t be imported from Skype into Teams.
  • Choose Microsoft Teams to answer your calls. Allow end-users to choose to receive their phone calls in MSTeams, rather than Skype for Business.
  • Speed dial cards. Open the Calls tab and Contacts, and build your list of speed dials, including your contacts outside of the organisation. Tap to call their phone number. For internal contacts, call them in MSTeams, start a Chat or leave a Voicemail.
    Suggested contacts may be added to speed dials; people you call frequently, or if you meet frequently with someone.
  • Visual Voicemail. View who has called, play their message and read the transcript of the message.

Meetings in Microsoft Teams

Amey Parandeker explains how Meet Now and the difference between channel and non-channel scheduled meetings. We demo a meeting between a Surface Pro, a Macbook Pro and an iPhone.

When you start setting up a meeting from a channel in MSTeams, the video is on by default. This encourages people to use video, to add that much neglected dimension of communication.

When I start or join a meeting, Microsoft Teams selects which camera and audio source to use. I asked Amey where you could choose the audio source before the meeting. It will pick up your audio defaults from the operating system. So if you have chosen a headset as your Communications default, Teams will use that. The demo above was firstly on a Surface Pro with a front and rear facing camera. Teams chose the rear facing camera to begin with, which wouldn’t be my first choice. But once you have changed it to front-facing, Teams should remember that selection for next time. (Unless you’re like me and you often plug external cameras in and out of your device.)

  • Meet Now. You need to start a meeting and gather a few people together from your team, and you need to do it now. Start a meeting in a channel, either as a new conversation or in an existing conversation. The meeting is available for other team members to join, and you can invite specific people into the meeting.
  • Schedule a meeting. Channels are optional. If you don’t choose a channel, it will be like a Skype for Business meeting. Only the participants invited to the meeting will know about the meeting. If a channel is chosen and participants are invited, the meeting will be available for the team to join. The invited participants will receive an email invite to add to their calendar.
  • Share an application in a meeting. Amey shares the PowerPoint window from the Macbook, into the meeting. Sharing an individual window and uploading a PowerPoint are coming in Q2 of 2018.
  • Meeting Note. There will be something added to MSTeams meetings in Q2 2018 called a Meeting Note. It’s a little mysterious at this time. I saw it in another demo and it appeared to be added to the conversation thread and assigned to or @mentioning someone.
  • Recording Meetings. Meetings will be recorded to Microsoft Stream, with transcription.

Microsoft Teams Mobile App

Pratik Stephens showed me some of the improvements to meetings in the mobile app and shares some of his tips for catching up with messages in Microsoft Teams from your mobile.

  • Join a meeting from the Meetings tab.
  • PSTN calls – call a device contact or organisation contact using Teams mobile. It will require Enterprise Voice enabled in the Cloud.
  • Shared desktop visibility. See a shared desktop on your mobile and active speakers.
  • Dial into a meeting using your phone. If you need to dial into a meeting using the mobile phone, to get audio. This is useful for when your mobile bandwidth signal is poor. With one tap, it will dial the number and enter the conference id.
  • Team Tabs. Additional tabs are visible in the mobile app. If the tab is a document or notebook, it will deep-link and open using the full app such as Word or OneNote. If you don’t have the app installed, it will open in the mobile browser. Web site tabs will load the website using the default browser for the mobile.
  • Guest Access in mobile. If you belong to a Microsoft Team outside of your organisation, Guest Access allows you to log into the Team and participate as a guest.

Pratik showed me a couple of tips he uses to catch up on messages and manage them in the Teams mobile app.

  • Read / Unread. Mark something as unread, so the unread message is like a task to get back to.
  • Save an item. This adds a bookmark to the message. Then access your saved items from the “hamburger” menu.
  • Filters.
    • Filter to show all the messages that @mention you. Triage those first.
    • Then filter the unread messages using the Unread filter.
  • Following feed. Catch up on the channels you follow.

Wrapping up

Microsoft Teams had a very successful conference. Last year, they were silently waiting in the wings and hadn’t been introduced to the world. 6 months since becoming Generally Available, the world shows increasing interest in Microsoft Teams. They have an ambitious roadmap ahead, and seem to be keeping that pace up.

If you want to know more about Messaging, Calls, Meetings and Mobile in Microsoft Teams, check out these sessions from Microsoft Ignite.

Collaborate in a chat-based workspace with Microsoft Teams

Collaboration on the go with Microsoft Teams mobile apps

Understanding meetings in Microsoft Teams

Get an overview of Microsoft Teams architecture

Microsoft Teams and Yammer: Velocity meets community


Also published on Medium.