Here is every major Microsoft Teams update from Ignite 2019
Microsoft's Orlando conference brings streamlined sign-in and powerful developer tools
Microsoft Ignite has delivered an enormous number of updates across the company's product portfolio and in particular its collaboration platform, Teams.
To make life a little easier for readers we've rounded up the most important changes, some of which are available now, with others being accessible through Microsoft's preview programme.
Simple sign-in for Microsoft 365
Microsoft has added a bunch of authentication features to its 365 platform that will also filter down to Teams. Most of these are aimed at what the company calls "firstline workers", defined as those employees who act as the first point of contact for a business, typically retail staff.
Firstly, SMS sign-in is coming to Teams, allowing users to log onto the service with their phone number and an SMS authentication code, effectively removing the need to remember passwords. Likewise, a Global Sign-out feature is also on its way for Android devices that lets workers sign out of all their 365 apps, including Teams, with one click.
Firstline managers will also soon be able to manage user credentials directly. The goal here is to reduce the strain on IT support by allowing managers to, for example, help employees reset passwords without having to turn to support teams.
All of these authentication features are currently in preview but are expected to become generally available before the end of the year.
Content management and Yammer integrations
There are also a bunch of new features designed to make it easier to access and manage files and tasks across its Microsoft 365 portfolio from inside the Teams app.
Aside from a few minor tweaks to permission options, some bigger changes include being able to preview files from 320 different file types, support for relevant People cards and recent files that are now displayed alongside chat windows, and the ability to sync Team files to a PC or Mac.
Customers will also be able to migrate conversations they've had in Outlook into the Teams app before the end of this year and in the first quarter of 2020, the company plans to add a new UI for tasks created in Teams, Planner or To Do.
Finally, Yammer, the enterprise communications app that at one time looked like it was going to be scrapped, will be integrated into Teams in a preview state by the end of the year, before rolling out generally in 2020.
The app has received a complete redesign, being the first to be built from the ground up using the Microsoft's Fluent Design System Microsoft's latest design language. For Teams, this means that the app can be accessed directly from the left rail, although this new version is unavailable until its private preview in December, with general availability at some point in 2020.
Speaking of communications, US customers are now able to use a feature called Dynamic Emergency Calling, which also provides the current location of the user to emergency services. Currently, the feature supports those on Microsoft's Calling Plan, although Direct Routing users will eventually be supported before the end of the year.
There were also a number of smaller announcements for the calling function. Music on Hold is a fairly self-explanatory new feature, offering the option to play music for any caller placed on hold or put into a queue. Location Based Routing allows customers to control the routing of calls between VoIP and PSTN endpoints. And finally, larger organisations with a global footprint can now choose the nearest Microsoft media processor to handle their calls, which should improve overall performance.
Upgrade to Microsoft Teams Rooms
Microsoft Teams Rooms (MTR), the successor to Skype Room Systems, also received a handful of updates, the biggest of which is compatibility with Cisco WebEx and Zoom, allowing Teams users to connect to these services directly. This should be available starting in early 2020, beginning with WebEx.
The second big announcement is the launch of a new managed service called Managed Meeting Rooms. This will provide cloud-based IT management and security monitoring for meetings, as well as support onsite services through a partner network. This service is available now in private preview and is expected to launch generally during spring 2020.
There have also been a tonne of security and compliance updates for IT admins.
Firstly, Microsoft's Advanced Threat Protection has been extended to messages within Teams, offering real-time protection against malware and malicious scripts. Similarly, the option to apply policies that block groups from sharing files with each other now also covers files stored within SharePoint.
Admins have also been given more options concerning the length of data policies, with the option to enforce restrictions for a single day, as well as new PowerShell functions designed to make it easier to assign policies across larger Teams groups. It will also soon be possible to manage device usage and deployments through a single management portal.
Private chat and customised conversations
The option to chat privately inside a Team is now generally available to all users, allowing customers to create separate chat windows that can be viewed and accessed by a select few of the team's members.
The multiwindow feature is also coming to Teams from the first quarter of 2020, allowing users to pop out chats and meetings into a separate window. Users will also be able to pin specific channels to the left rail, allowing them to keep track of most-commonly used conversations.
Finally, the Teams client is also heading to Linux, with a public preview being made available before the end of 2019.
A new feature called Virtual Consults is available in private preview, designed to make it easier for organisations that rely on sensitive consultations with their customers, such as healthcare professionals or customer service agencies, to arrange calls. The feature brings with it built-in meeting transcriptions, cloud-recording and the option to blur out backgrounds if they are in a location that would otherwise distract from the meeting.
A healthy chunk of upgrades were also reserved for the Teams developer community.
Firstly, Microsoft has made the tools available as part of its Power Platform more accessible in the Teams environment. Power Apps developers are now able to publish their creations as Teams apps directly to the company's app library, making it easier for users to find them. The whole process of adding apps has also been made easier. As for users, they will eventually be able to pin these custom apps to the left rail, once this comes into play before the end of 2019.
Power BI is also receiving some updates that will translate to Teams next year, including the ability to create interactive cards within Teams conversations for users to engage with. The Power BI tab in Teams will also be given an upgrade, making it easier to select the right reports.
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