It’s been two years since Microsoft launched Teams in 2017. The new app takes the place of Skype for Business and it comes included with the Office 365 suite. This makes it easy and convenient for organizations that already use these tools to integrate Teams into their daily operations.
Today I want to talk to you about its main features, the highlights, how it compares to Skype, and what new updates are coming. So, let’s begin!
Microsoft Teams strives to make collaboration within companies and – you guessed it – teams more intuitive and efficient. Since it’s an Office app you can install it in your computer, download it on your phone or access your account from any web browser.
Microsoft also offers a free version of Teams, with a limited number of members and less storage. The free version was implemented so people who don’t work with the Office 365 suite of apps would still be able to work and collaborate through Microsoft Teams.
Let’s get together
Microsoft Teams allows you to create your “Team” of collaborators. You can chat, send pictures, upload files and collaborate on them (like you would on a Drive file but right within your group chat). You can also have one-on-one calls, schedule meetings and add apps to the Teams search bar. It also records meetings and makes them available to participants through Microsoft Stream. This helps keep information one click away, whether it’s written down or in an audio or video format.
Within each Team you create a Channel, or specialized chat. So, let’s say your Team’s name is “New Project”; in that chat you can collaborate with everyone involved. But let’s say you want to talk specifically about budgeting. You can create a Channel named “Budget” within that same Team with just the people involved with budgeting. This way all the information you need about your new project will still be in Microsoft Teams, even in the same tab, but you’ll be able to organize better who gets what information.
How does Teams compare to Skype?
You might find some differences, specially if you’ve been using Skype for Business for a long time, but Microsoft Teams was built with improvement in mind. Skype for Business was primarily for communication, Microsoft Teams is for collaboration. With Teams, you have most Skype features (the rest will probably be included in coming updates). But you also get a collaborative platform that lets you interact better and more in sync with your coworkers.
The chat in Teams allows a more modern way of communicating, with GIFs and memes and not just emojis. Save files and access them easily from another tab in your chat. All in all, Microsoft Teams includes Skype for Business’s features, improves them and includes others.
Microsoft Team’s features
Microsoft Teams has been around only a couple of years and today 91 companies out of the Fortune 100 use it to keep their operations on track. Besides its messaging and call features, Teams allows you to add in your favorite Microsoft apps, like Word, Excel, PowerPoint, and SharePoint. You can also integrate third-party services to collaborate within group or one-on-one chats.
As all Microsoft apps, Teams has end-to-end security, administrative control, and compliance. Data encryption protects all your files and information, while still allowing auditing and reporting when needed.
One very useful feature included is Background Blur. You can blur your background during a call, so people focus only on you, and not what’s behind you.
Coming soon to Microsoft Teams
Microsoft is constantly updating its apps to better suit your needs and your companies’ needs. Teams will update its functioning later this year and include new features.
Starting this year, you’ll be able to attend and participate in Live Events with up to 10,000 people. Viewers of the broadcast won’t require a Teams account. Also, live captions will allow hard of hearing or deaf participants to read in real time what is being said during calls. This update will be available first in English, and then roll out in other languages that Microsoft Teams supports.
The background blur feature will have an update later this year that not only lets you blur, but add an image as a background. So, if you’re in another place, with this update you’ll be able to change your background, so it looks like your actual office or any place you want it to look like.
Another feature that’s coming in 2019 is Intelligent Capture, that lets you import a physical whiteboard into Microsoft Teams. This way you can see much clearer the information in real time, add transparency to the person writing, and save the digital image of the whiteboard as a file in your group chat.
Additionally, Microsoft is working on its own Whiteboard app to integrate to Teams and in translations for meetings. You’ll have these new features in the near future, but no specific date has been announced.
I hope this information has been useful! Personally, I’ve been using Teams for quite a while and do consider it essential for my daily activities in the office. Its GIFs and memes help strengthen relationships, the ability to share files through chat makes it easier to merge tasks with your coworkers and, all in all, makes communication within your company easier. Microsoft Teams is the ultimate collaborative tool for businesses looking to grow together and empower each other.
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