If you’re reading this blog post, chances are you know a bit about Microsoft Teams. You might even be using it for some or all of its workloads. On the other hand, maybe you’re Teams curious and looking for reasons to try it out. This post is for all of you.
Microsoft Teams, or Teams as I like to call it, burst onto the scene almost two years ago as a collaboration tool in Office 365. Sitting alongside similar applications like Skype for Business (Online) and to a lesser degree Yammer. Microsoft call it, the hub for teamwork. And I tend to agree with that. The word hub implies that Teams is at the centre and the spokes are the features.
Teams is built on a modern, microservice based, cross-platform architecture. This type of architecture gives the product team a massive canvass for improvements, additions and changes. Which means that Teams will always be getting better.
I have no doubt that Microsoft themselves has a list of changes and improvements they want to make. But on top of that, there’s the Teams uservoice forum.
If you haven’t seen the Teams uservoice forum I suggest you take a look and get registered. It is your chance to have your say and help shape this great product. If you want something you don’t see in Teams, search for it on Uservoice. Chances are, someone else has thought if it or something similar and you can help vote the idea up. If it’s not there, add it as a new idea and get your friends, colleagues or social media community behind you so they can help vote it up.
Uservoice isn’t just a dead drop where ideas go to die. It is a living breathing hive of activity. Ideas, popular or not, are evaluated by the Microsoft product team for their merit and achievability. They add remarks and change the status of ideas as they move up the list. Often changing from idea to, “needs more feedback”, “on the back-log”, “planned”, “working on it”, “partially done” and lastly, “completed”.
About 15 month ago, Microsoft published a publicly facing roadmap for Teams. That in itself isn’t that unusual. Vendors do have ambitions and products have roadmaps. But what was really surprising was that they put dates on things to be achieved. With no less than 70 items, it was a fairly big list, and ambitious to say the least. The threw down the gauntlet on themselves. And this wasn’t some wishy washy list of things stretching years in the future. The completion date was set for the end of calendar year 2018.
The original idea behind the list was to list all the things that were available in Skype for Business Online with Phone System and map out when these things would be migrated to the Teams platform. It focused on 3 key workloads; Messaging, Meetings and Calling.
Microsoft updated the roadmap roughly once per quarter which showed progress. Some things slipped a little, but one by one, every last one was delivered* not long after the deadline closed.
* Delivered is somewhat subjective of course. Because some things said delivered, but took a little while to finally land in every tenant in every location. Some things took weeks or months to finally appear. Some thing appeared and disappeared. But that is just the nature of agile microservice architecture.
The last update for the roadmap was January 2019 – Here.
Microsoft didn’t stop with the porting of features from Skype for Business Online to Teams. They kept going. There’s a new roadmap site, not just for Teams, but for all of Microsoft 365. You can of course filter the list to just Microsoft Teams.
Delivered in Teams in 2018
If you doubt Microsoft’s commitment to Teams I want you to take a look at this list of features delivered to Teams in 2018 alone. This list is broken down into 4 categories; Communicate, Collaborate, Customize & Extend and Work with Confidence.
- 1:1 to Group Call Escalation with Teams, Skype for Business, and PSTN participants
- Background Blur
- Boss and Delegate Support
- Broadcast Meetings (preview)
- Call Park
- Call Queues
- Cloud Recording
- Consultative Transfer
- Contact Groups
- Control who can post in the General channel
- Copy a link to a post
- Direct Routing
- Distinctive Ring
- Do not Disturb breakthrough
- Education – improved assignment functionality: smoother assignment flow,
- assignment notifications, find assignments quickly
- Education – Improved class notebook integration with assignments
- Federated Chat between Teams and Skype for Business
- Federated Meetings
- Forward to Group
- Group Call Pickup
- Hide/Share/Mute Chat
- Get important notifications while in Do not Disturb
- Image annotation
- Immersive Reader
- Improved personal settings
- Import Contacts from Skype for Business
- Include hyperlinks in your messages
- Leave a group chat
- Large Meeting Support (~250)
- Like and hide chats
- Lobby for PSTN callers
- Location-Based Routing
- Message Translation
- More channels per team
- Share screen from private chat
- @mention somebody in a chat
- Organizational Auto-Attendant
- PowerPoint Load and Share
- PSTN Fallback
- Quick reply to a chat message from pop up notification
- Shared lined Appearance
- Schedule in Outlook & Teams
- Send a message from the command box
- Send a chat from a contact card
- Skype for Business Interop with Persistent Chat
- Unified Presence
- Whiteboard and Meeting Notes
- Access Office 365 app launcher in web client
- Teams available for US GCC
- Create a team using a previous one as a template
- Free version of Teams
- Microsoft Remote Assist support: Call someone on a HoloLens
- View and edit Visio files within Teams
- Auto-favorite important channels
- New views in Microsoft Planner tab
- Add SharePoint pages, news articles and lists as unique tabs within channels
- Include information from VSTS n your conversations
- Quiet hours on mobile
- Guest access for users
- Support for new languages
- Guest access on mobile
- Join a team via a code
- Updated keyboard shortcuts
Customize & Extend
- Adaptive Cards
- Cloud Video Interop
- Device Portfolio including Crestron, HP, Jabra
- Discover apps for Teams in the new Store
- Work with files and your Teams bot
- Tailored teams created through the New Teams APIs in Microsoft Graph
- Include information from an app in a conversation
- Improved OneNote tab
- Include existing OneNote notebooks as a tab
- Enterprise app sharing through Teams enterprise catalog for apps
- Use slash commands, take quick actions, and search from the command box
- Access a personal view of your apps
- Message extensions
- New apps including Evernote, VSTS, Planner, Microsoft Flow, SurveyMonkey
- Who app
- Tabs in private chat
- Improved OneNote tab
- Skype Room Systems Support
- Support for existing certified SIP Phones
- USB HID control
- Trio 1 Touch Teams Meeting Join
- Surface Hub Support (Preview)
Work with Confidence
- Admin roles
- eDiscovery support for users in an exchange hybrid environment
- eDiscovery enhancements
- Easier updates for Mac
- Graph APIs
- Hide teams from Outlook
- List of teams in the admin center
- Message Retention Policies
- Messaging User-Level Policies
- New Microsoft Teams & Skype for Business Admin Center including Messaging
- Restore a deleted channel
- Updates in user level policies and organization settings
- New reminder that your team is expiring
- Install Microsoft Teams using MSI
- Access activity usage reports
- Manage Microsoft Teams via PowerShell
- Org-wide teams
- Scoped Directory Search
- Store your data locally in India, UK, Australia, Japan
- Set retention policies
- Support for conditional access on Macs
- Teams based on dynamic group membership
- Tenant-Level Messaging Policies
- Messaging Interop IT Policies
- User-Level Meeting Policy
Now if you don’t have something that’s on these lists, you are probably on a ring that doesn’t have it yet. It’ll come to you at some point soon.
I think you can agree that’s quite a list! And of course they aren’t stopping. In 2019 so far…
- Location sharing
- Smart camera
- Customizable mobile experience
- Teams available for US GCC High
Customize & Extend
- Create teams with Team Templates (including education, retail, and healthcare)
- Microsoft Teams Rooms
Work with Confidence
- New Usage Reports
- Teams-Only Mode
I think you can agree that Microsoft is serious about making Teams the hub for teamwork in Microsoft 365. Their commitment to new features and improvements is proof of that. And it isn’t just features on their agenda for the product that makes the cut. With Uservoice, it’s like crowed design rather than crowd funding. This is helping them win against the competition in this space.
Two years ago, Teams was an interesting idea. Now it is on the verge of being ubiquitous. Like Lync before it, it’s starting to have its own gravitational pull. Pulling customers or course, but vendors too. It’s just going to keep getting better and better.
If you are using Teams, well done. I hope you like it. If there’s something you need, pitch the idea or vote one up. If you aren’t using it for everything, I’d love to know why.
If you aren’t using Teams, I say give it a try. There’s a free version that requires no commitment on your part other than time. And if you have Office 365 or Microsoft 365 it’s there waiting for you already. What have you got to lose?
Thanks for reading.