Microsoft has added key Skype for Business features to Teams. These updates represent a similar, but separate product and feature set, designed to improve communications within Teams. While Microsoft has not implemented all of the new functions, the existing communications tools have a lot to offer. There are some neat new features! Microsoft says the Teams communications suite will become the primary mode of communication throughout Office 365.
The shift is the next step in Microsoft’s plan to replace Skype for Business with Teams. The rollout is available to all Teams users now and will be available to all Office 365 users by the end of this year. It’s part of what the company calls its Intelligent Communications strategy. The shift will make it easier to integrate AI, Microsoft Graph, and LinkedIn functions into Teams in the future.
The idea is to enable Teams users to have “a single place for their conversations, contacts, and content,” according to Microsoft. But it has a way to go to achieve that goal.
Many of the new capabilities have been available for quite some time. Wellington Street Consulting has been using them internally for several months and has implemented them for nearly all of its current customers who use Teams. If you’re already using the intelligent communication features in Teams, there is no steep new learning curve to master. Consolidating your many communications tools into one central location through Teams offers many exciting opportunities to streamline how you work collaboratively.
The idea is to enable Teams users to have “a single place for their conversations, contacts, and content,”
The most frustrating piece that’s still missing from the Teams communication client is chat federation; the ability to initiate communications with external people who are not members (guests) of a specific Team. Contact between members of a specific team works great, but if you’re working in Teams, you can’t just reach out to someone outside of your company who isn’t a member of any Teams. You still have to use Skype for Business for that. This capability, known as federation, isn’t part of the Teams communications client just yet.
Chat federation is not on any the Teams roadmaps (Office.com/roadmap and aka.ms/skype2teamsroadmap). The only reference to it I’ve found is a UserVoice entry that, as of the writing of this post, has 732 votes. Microsoft has tagged this post as partially done, but has listed no ETA for the delivery of this critical feature.
Currently available new whistles and bells include:
- Background blur, a handy way to disguise the mess in your office or your co-worker’s NSFW poster when you’re on a video call.
- The ability to record your Teams meetings in the cloud
- The addition of the Teams administrator role
- Priority notification capability
- Cloud video interoperability
- The ability to add notes to images
There’s a lot more to come, and we’ll be posting regular updates here. If you have any questions about any of these new capabilities, or about adopting Teams in your company, please reach out to us at Wellington Street Consulting or email info@BostonO365.com.