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10 Microsoft Teams Updates Unveiled At Ignite Fall 2021

Wade Tyler Millward

Microsoft is using the virtual conference to announce a number of new features and updates for the Teams collaboration app, including around security, integrations and events capabilities.

Mesh For Microsoft Teams Introduced

Microsoft plans to launch a preview of Mesh-enabled capabilities for Teams users on PC, mobile and mixed-reality headsets in the first half of 2022.

Users will have the ability to share and collaborate spatially on existing Microsoft 365 documents, presentations and content, according to the company. Users can make avatars for meetings and make them express emotions with live reactions. Organizations can create branded immersive spaces that look like conference rooms, design centers and networking lounges.

As an example of Mesh in action, Microsoft built Mesh-enabled immersive spaces with solution provider Accenture, which has used mixed reality to onboard new employees during the pandemic.

“The feature combines the mixed-reality capabilities of Microsoft Mesh, which allows people in different physical locations to join collaborative and shared holographic experiences with the productivity tools of Teams, where people can join virtual meetings, send chats, collaborate on shared documents and more,” John Roach, an executive architect in Microsoft’s digital transformation services, wrote in a blog post Tuesday.

“Mesh for Teams – which anyone will be able to access from standard smartphones and laptops to mixed-reality headsets – is designed to make online meetings more personal, engaging and fun,” Roach said. “It’s also a gateway to the metaverse – a persistent digital world that is inhabited by digital twins of people, places and things. Think of the metaverse as a new version –or a new vision –of the internet, one where people gather to communicate, collaborate and share with personal virtual presence on any device.”

Expansion Of Teams Connect

Through the Microsoft Teams Connect tool--which allows for collaboration among multiple organizations--Microsoft plans to release an update for Chat with Teams that allows Teams users to chat with people outside the work network with a personal account. Users can invite people to chat on Teams with an email address or phone number and still follow an organization‘s security and compliance policies. The update is expected by the end of the year.

Early next year, Microsoft will release a preview of shared channels for individuals across multiple organizations. This Teams Connect-enabled feature will allow users to schedule shared channel meetings for up to 50 teams and unlimited organizations, according to Microsoft.

In a blog post published Tuesday, Frank X. Shaw, Microsoft Communications’ corporate vice president, said that Teams Connect is part of a trust fabric Microsoft wants to build through its security offerings.

“Microsoft is building the identity system of the future, one that connects and enables people, organizations, apps and even smart devices to make real-time access decisions safely and securely,” Shaw said.

“Microsoft Teams Connect runs on this trust fabric – every user and every access request is secured through our identity platform. And now, secure and trusted collaboration across boundaries can be established in a matter of minutes,” he said.

 
Wade Tyler Millward

Wade Tyler Millward is an associate editor covering cloud computing and the channel partner programs of Microsoft, IBM, Red Hat, Oracle, Salesforce, Citrix and other cloud vendors. He can be reached at wmillward@thechannelcompany.com.

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