Microsoft Ignite 2022: Top Teams Announcements

Some of the biggest Teams news at Microsoft Ignite 2022 includes customizable avatars, a “premium” offering and more integrations with Dynamics 365.

Customizable avatars, a “premium” offering and more integrations with Dynamics 365 are among the biggest updates to Microsoft’s Teams collaboration application announced at Ignite 2022.

Teams has been a major business opportunity for the Redmond, Wash.-based tech giant and its partners, with more than 270 million monthly active users.

Ignite 2022 runs from Wednesday to Friday online with a limited in-person presence in Seattle, according to Microsoft.

[RELATED: The Biggest Microsoft Teams And M365 Announcements At Build 2022]

What Teams News Came Out Of Microsoft Ignite 2022?

Marc Menzies, president and chief technology officer at Ronkonkoma, N.Y.-based Microsoft partner Overview Technology Solutions, told CRN in an interview that his company partners with others to deliver Teams-enabled telephony and unified-communications-as-a-service (UCaaS), which has been in demand from customers.

Menzies said he hopes to see Microsoft continue to invest in text messaging native to the platform, which is also in demand.

“There are clients and partners willing to pay for it,” he said.

In July, on the company’s latest quarterly earnings call, CEO Satya Nadella said that over the past year, Microsoft has “introduced more than 450 capabilities to empower frontline and knowledge workers to collaborate synchronously and asynchronously as well as remote and in person.”

“Teams is taking share across every category—from collaboration to chat to meetings to calling—and seeing higher usage intensity as companies turn to the platform to accelerate their digital transformation and orchestrate all their business processes in the flow of work,” Nadella said on an earnings call in July.

“ISVs from Adobe to Workday have built deep integrations with Teams,” he continued. “And more than 100,000 companies—including Johnson & Johnson, Lumen Technologies and Progressive Insurance—have deployed custom line-of-business [LOB] applications in Teams.”

Using Teams as a phone system and devices to make a Teams-enabled conference room are also on the rise.

“Teams Phone is the market leader in cloud calling across VoIP and PSTN,” Nadella said. “We now have over 12 million PSTN users, nearly double the number a year ago. And Teams Rooms bridges the gap between people working remotely and those in the office with innovations like AI-powered cameras. More than 60 percent of the Fortune 500 have chosen Teams Rooms to connect employees across the hybrid workplace.”

Here are the biggest announcements to come out of the conference.

Mesh Avatars In Teams

Microsoft announced a private preview of Mesh avatars for Teams meetings. Teams users can make customized, animated versions of themselves for Teams meetings where they’d rather have cameras off.

Users can design up to three avatars with hundreds of customization options using the Avatars application in the Teams App Store, according to Microsoft. They can also use the avatars to react to conversation in Teams.

Mesh – Nadella has said – could revolutionize mixed reality the way Microsoft’s Xbox Live evolved gaming.

Microsoft Teams Premium

Coming in December is a preview of a Teams Premium add-on, according to Microsoft. General availability is planned for February. Availability for new artificial intelligence (AI) capabilities will start to roll out in the first half of 2023.

Premium will include meeting guides to have the right Teams settings for client calls, brainstorms, support and other scenarios, according to Microsoft. Premium users can brand meeting experiences with custom logos and backgrounds for the lobby and custom scenes for together mode.

This add-on will include an intelligent recap feature for personalized highlights from Teams meetings, tasks generated by AI automatically assigned from the meeting and intelligent playback for navigating recorded meetings.

Other features include personalized insights that identify when someone shared a screen, a user’s name was mentioned and when people joined and left; an intelligent search for transcripts; and live translations for captions for 40 spoken languages, according to Microsoft.

Premium adds watermarking to deter leaks and limit recordings, according to Microsoft. Customers with a Microsoft 365 E5 license can use existing Purview Information Protection sensitivity labels to apply meeting protection options automatically.

Webinars in the premium add-on will have a registration waitlist, manual approvals, automated reminder emails and a virtual green room for hosts and presenters.

Virtual appointments in the premium add-on will come with pre-appointment text reminders, branded lobby experiences and post-appointment follow-ups.

Teams Meetings Updates

The “cameo” PowerPoint experience in Teams is now generally available, allowing users to customize how they appear on slides with layout recommendations for best viewing.

The Excel live feature for editing workbooks in real time in a meeting window on any device – even allowing users to sort and filter workbooks without disrupting others’ views – has started rolling out, according to Microsoft. General availability is slated before the end of the year.

And Teams’ “together” mode gained a preview for the ability for users to assign seats to participants.

Teams Phone Mobile GA

The former Operator Connect Mobile, now called Teams Phone Mobile, is generally available, with Rogers in Canada the first supporting operator. Verizon, Deutsche Telekom, BT and Swisscom will launch soon, according to Microsoft.

Microsoft’s enterprise-grade mobile calling experience is integrated with users’ mobile device native dialer so that users can still use mobile phones while organizations enable business calling features and policies, according to Microsoft.

Calls move across networks and devices without interruption and go from mobile networks to internet-based video calls in Teams, according to Microsoft. Calls, voicemail and transcriptions follow users while maintaining company compliance and privacy requirements.

Teams Chat Updates

New Teams chat features that are generally available include video clips, suggested replies in group chats and schedule send.

Video clips can be recorded, sent, viewed and replied to from desktop or mobile devices. Suggested replies – powered by machine learning – were previously only available for one-on-one chats. And schedule send allows chat users to select a future date and time for Teams to deliver a message.

Teams chat will gain more reactions in November, including “reviewed” and “on hold.” By the end of the year, Teams chat will get a mention @everyone feature and zero-state people recommendations, according to Microsoft.

The mention @everyone feature notifies all users in a group so that users don’t have to enter each individual’s name. And the zero-state people recommendations feature will suggest people to start chats with based on previous collaborations, according to Microsoft.

Improved Teams Channels

Teams channels will receive a “compose box” feature at the top of the page to make finding conversations easier, according to Microsoft.

Channels will also get the ability for pinned posts, the pop out of a conversation feature already in Teams chat and a new info pane with the goal of speeding up new team member ramping.

Channel headers will match organization’s brands, and multiple post types are coming, including milestone announcements and video clips for recognizing accomplishments, according to Microsoft.

Teams-Native Cisco Devices

Teams meetings will be natively available across certified Cisco meeting devices. Six Cisco devices and three peripherals will be certified to start.

Devices will still support WebEx, although Teams Rooms will be the default experience, according to Microsoft. A Teams Rooms Pro Management Portal will allow for management of the devices. Devices can also connect to Cisco Cloud Control Hub.

By the end of October, a Teams-nativeCisco Desk Camera 4K peripheral will be available, according to Microsoft. By early 2023, the first wave of certified devices will include Cisco Board Pros 55-inch and 75-inch, Cisco Room Bars and Cisco Room Kit Pros.

Microsoft Places Coming To Preview

Microsoft will “soon” launch a preview of the Places workplace application, which will have dashboard views of the days people are in the office, according to the vendor.

Places will also show people’s location – in office, remote or mobile – and booked and available workspaces. The app can automatically schedule travel time, provide guidance on commuting time and help users navigate within an office.

Managers can track sentiment around hybrid policies. And the Places app can provide space use guidance to help companies improve real estate portfolios, according to Microsoft.

New Dynamics Integrations

In November, Teams users will gain access to Business Central data within Teams, even if they don‘t have a Dynamics 365 license, according to Microsoft.

Administrators can set permissions and access rules, and Business Central users can invite people from across the organization to collaborate.

Planned for general availability this month is an automated, AI-generated conversation summary in Dynamics 365 Customer Service that Teams users can collaborate on, according to Microsoft.

Also this month, Dynamics 365 users can embed Teams chat so that they don’t have to leave Microsoft’s customer relationship management (CRM) offering.

New Teams ISV Offerings

Microsoft has added more independent software vendors (ISVs) offerings to the Teams App Store.

3M added a Post-It application for digitizing hand-written notes using laptop and phone cameras. The app can also surface relevant documents and group content together, all in Teams, through machine learning, according to Microsoft.

SAP has added a collaborative enterprise resource planning (ERP) for S/4Hana customers in the vendor’s early adopter program. The ERP experience allows users to engage with SAP data from Teams and Outlook.

And iHeartRadio has a music app for Teams, with users able to share stations, according to Microsoft.