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BWW Media Group / At Microsoft Ignite, conferencing takes center stage

At Microsoft Ignite, conferencing takes center stage

COVID-19 shaped this week’s Microsoft Ignite in terms of form and content: Like the rest of Microsoft’s 2020 events, the annual developer conference is running virtually over three days.

And like July’s Inspire partner conference, Ignite kept the heat on videoconferencing and remote collaboration.

The pandemic has supercharged Redmond’s Teams development; this week Microsoft announced myriad enhancements to the collaboration platform.

Among this week’s Teams-related enhancements:

Coordinated meetings on Microsoft Teams Rooms and Surface Hub. The new update for Windows 10 Team improves IT integration, device deployment, and management capabilities, as well as meeting and collaboration experiences across all first-generation Surface Hub and Surface Hub 2S devices.

Support for Cortana voice assistance. Teams integration of the digital assistant provides participants hands-free controls to join Teams meetings, make calls, send chat messages, share files and more.

Teams casting for Microsoft Teams Rooms. Teams casting wirelessly connects and displays content on a nearby Teams Rooms device directly from smartphones.

Meeting room capacity notifications. Data from meeting-room cameras counts participants and alerts them if the room is over capacity.

Room remote for Microsoft Teams Rooms.

New Calling features. Improvements to Microsoft 365 include an enhanced calling view that makes it easier to view contacts, voicemail, and calling history at once, making it easier to initiate or return a call with a single click.

Enhanced meeting-room management. Teams Admin Center now offers an improved portal experience for managing calling and meeting devices including Teams phones, Teams displays and Teams Rooms, all from one location.

A public preview of Project Oakdale. This forthcoming low-code data platform for Teams employs Microsoft’s Power Platform to let users build apps, workflows, dashboards, and chatbots directly within Teams.

Clearly, Microsoft is positioning Teams as the dominant collaboration tool of the post-pandemic era.

Judging from a recent Petri survey of IT professionals, the attention is well-placed: Respondents reported that communication and collaboration are the top challenges they face in the wake of COVID-19, and Teams is their No. 1 platform for communicating with end users. That means the people charged with implementing remote-collaboration tools are Teams users themselves — and personally invested in standardizing their enterprises on the platform they know best.

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