Microsoft has today announced a host of meaningful updates for its Teams collaboration platform during the Microsoft Ignite 2021 conference. The most notable one is the arrival of end-to-end encryption support, just, like WhatsApp and Signal. Microsoft says that Teams will enable end-to-end encryption for one-to-one VoIP calls. This feature will make its way to paid customers as a preview in the first half of 2022.
Support for E2EE adds a much-needed layer of security to conversations over the platform, and also brings it on par with Zoom. However, Zoom has promised to roll out end-to-end encryption for both free and paid users, while Microsoft is keeping it exclusive to paid Teams users, at least in the preview phase that goes live later this year. As for the other key competitor – Slack – it doesn’t offer end-to-end encryption at the moment.
Listed below are a few other changes coming to Teams:
1. Microsoft Teams will allow users to conduct webinars with up to 1,000 attendees, and once that number is reached, the limit will be raised to 10,000 attendees. And if that number also comes up short, Teams will further extend the attendee range to 20,000.
2. Microsoft has also launched a new feature called Microsoft Teams Connect that will let users share a channel with people that are from a different organization, complete with capabilities such as chat, app collaboration, and co-authoring documents simultaneously. Microsoft Teams Connect will be out for all users later this year.
3. Microsoft Teams is also getting a new feature called Microsoft PowerPoint Live that will give presenters access to tools such as notes, slides, and participant cards, all on the same screen. As for attendees, they can choose to go through all the content at their own speed during the online presentation. This feature is already live in Teams.
4. There is also a new presenter mode that offers multiple formats such as Standout (presenter appears in front of the content), Reporter (content appears above the speaker’s shoulder), and Side-by-side (video feed of presenter appears alongside the content).
5. Teams will automatically adjust the layout of the video call as more people join the meeting, begin presenting or speaking. Additionally, attendees can now react using emojis.
6. For the Teams experience on mobile, UI elements such as headers, icons, and styling have been updated, and the app now automatically switches to dark mode based on system settings. The ability to access files while offline is also here, alongside pinning chats, a wider emoji catalog, and the ability to trims GIFs directly. The changes will arrive first on the iOS app, followed by the Android version.