Teams gets upgrades including Cortana integration
Microsoft says Teams is now used by 200,000 organisations in 181 markets and 39 languages. That is up from 125,000 as of September 2017 and 50,000 when the preview was announced about year ago. Office 365 itself has 120 million business users.
Launched in November 2016, Microsoft’s Teams has managed to outperform its counterparts so far like Google Suite and Facebook Workplace. About 30,000 businesses were using Facebook Workplace as of October 2017 but while Microsoft has something to celebrate here, its main competitor Slack still leads in this area. As of September 2017, Slack had 6 million daily active users with 2 million of those users paying.
Microsoft hasn’t disclosed the number of individuals using this service but it looks like they are not yet up to that of Slack which is why they may have chosen to just report on an organisational level first.
To mark one of year of Teams launch, Microsoft is bringing the following features this year to it;
- Cloud recording—Will provide one-click meeting recordings with automatic transcription and timecoding, enabling all team members the ability to read captions, search within the conversation, and playback all or part of the meeting. In the future, it will also include facial recognition, so remarks can be attributed to specific meeting attendees.
- Inline message translation—People who speak different languages will be able to fluidly communicate with one another by translating posts in channels and chat.
- Cortana voice interactions for Teams-enabled devices—Will enable you to easily make a call, join a meeting, or add other people to a meeting in Teams using spoken, natural language. This functionality will extend to IP phones and conference room devices.
- Background blur on video—The ability to blur your background during video calls will allow other meeting attendees to focus on you, not what’s behind you.
- Proximity detection for Teams Meetings—This feature will make it easy for you to discover and add a nearby and available Skype Room System to any meeting.
- Mobile sharing in meetings—Meeting attendees will be able to share a live video stream, photos, or the screen from their mobile device.
As an enterprise grade application with no free version in sight just yet, other features coming to Teams probably in the second quarter of this year include Direct Routing, Consultative transfer and call delegation among others.
Microsoft has always used the strategy of having customers pay its collaborative services from onset and maybe it has slowed them down a bit with respect to having more customers but it has also driven the software maker’s overall profitability over time. While others like Slack have free users just as any other online services from music to video streaming, this strategy has also proven to be effective over time in that some of the free users who like the services and want more out of it just decide to pay even though history tells us that a majority will still remain in the free zone. Spotify for example has 70 million subscriber and about 30 million of them are paying.