Microsoft introduced the new Teams features at its Build virtual conference this week, designed to improve employee collaboration and productivity, with deeper video conferencing applications and new co-editing capabilities between changes.
Together, the moves aim to expand teams as a work platform, said Angela Ashenden, chief analyst at CCS Insight, allowing users to bring a wider set of applications and processes to the team environment.
Updates include «shared scenario integration», which brings third-party tools, such as whiteboards or layout applications, to the central screen of Teams meetings, which Microsoft refers to as the «main scenario».
Shared stage integration, currently in private preview, follows the launch of Teams for Applications applications in November last year, which allowed developers to connect 20 third-party applications to the Teams meeting interface, even if they were only accessible through the side panel.
The integration of third-party applications into teams follows similar moves by rival Microsoft Zoom, which announced integrations for its own video conferencing platform at last year’s Zoomtopia conference. «Although he was not the first to announce team dating apps on the market … Microsoft doubled its investment in this area and was able to leverage its experience to move comfortably in front of the market,» said Ashenden.
Other developer-focused updates include the ability to create custom scenes for Teams Together mode (expected to be available this summer), «Media API» for creating services around audio and video streams, and «Media API. Event meeting ”for automating workflows through events such as the beginning and end of a meeting. Microsoft has promised that additional event APIs will be available later this year.
Microsoft has also announced that «its fluid components» will be accessible through the Teams chat interface. Announced at Build in 2019, Fluid Framework aims to eliminate barriers between collaboration and productivity applications. This means separating items such as tables, charts and lists and allowing them to be connected to different tools and updated in real time.
Seamless team components will allow users, for example, to update and add «next steps» to a list of shared tasks that a colleague can access and edit simultaneously using Outlook.
«This is part of a larger investment that Microsoft has made to rethink the well-established concept of document creation, although it takes time to become a reality, as first announced two years ago.» , said Ashenden.
«It’s also a growing area of competition, with Coda and Airtable startups leading the initial concept, followed by Quip and, more recently, Google, through their smart web ads.»
The fluid components of the teams are currently in private preview.
Multi-platform integrations are part of a broader movement to connect teams with external applications to reduce the need to change the screen, said Wayne Kurtzman, research director at IDC. This is an area where Microsoft has caught up with its competitors.
«Microsoft is quickly moving Teams to its next chapter, where the software you need is built into Teams – an area that was a challenge for them when they competed with Slack,» he said. «If Microsoft uses its technology family to move multiple jobs to a ‘single pane’ and eliminate context switching, it might be interesting to see an enhanced user experience enhanced with native Azure information. ”