Microsoft Teams adds 'Together mode' in massive update

www.pcworld.com
4 min read
fairly difficult
Microsoft is driving hard to make Microsoft Teams the new Zoom.
Microsoft today said that it's shaking up online Teams video meetings with a new "Together mode" that places participants in a virtual auditorium. It's all part of a redesigned Teams experience that capitalizes on some of the promises Microsoft has been making for years. There's even a pair of Teams smart displays.

On Wednesday, Microsoft said the company has spent much of the last few months rethinking the way in which video meetings were conducted. About 60 percent of those Microsoft surveyed said they felt less connected to their colleagues due to the coronavirus, so Microsoft's new Teams update tries to make nonverbal communication a priority.

Several features play into this aspect of the Teams revamp, including chat bubbles, an updated way to "raise you hand" during meetings, and even live reactions. An earlier version of the "raise hand" option simply popped up a small hand icon. Now Teams will outline that particular speaker window in yellow, as an unobtrusive signal that the participant wishes to contribute.

Text is a priority in Teams' video calls

However, you don't have to participate in the conversation orally. The chat window in Teams (and competing services) has become a sort of side channel to carry on the conversation without interrupting the presenter. Here, Teams is introducing something new: chat bubbles, with small snippets of text that will appear over your head if you want to chime in with a supportive comment or question. If that's too distracting, Microsoft has stolen a page from other chat apps, and added "live reactions," Microsoft's name for emoji (like a heart) that participants can trigger and that can bubble up from their window.

Microsoft Here's what a post-meeting transcript within Microsoft Teams will look like.

Microsoft has also said for a while now that transcription and translation are a key part of the collaborative office experience, from showing off automatic translation in Skype to its vision of the office of the…
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