What is Microsoft Teams? How to use the new version. (2021)
This is the full tutorial so if you want the end-to-end experience that makes it easier for you to communicate and work more effectively with your teams, you came to the right place.
Aya Tange, Microsoft Teams Product Manager, joins host Jeremy Chapman to walk through some of the core capabilities and highlight all the updates along the way.
Teams brings together three main experiences:
- Chat, so you can collaborate with your team
- Meetings and calling, so you can always stay connected
- Apps and automation of your everyday business workflows
We’ve been working around the clock to make sure you have the best experience possible, which includes optimizing the service and bringing new experiences that allow you to have a natural human connection when using Teams — whether that’s joined from the office, from home, or remotely. Dive into our Quick Links to see each new update in detail.
02:40 — Chat- call, video chat, share content, and multiple chats
03:12 — Teams- invite-only channels, thread messages, rich-text editing, and tabs
07:34 — Pre-join screen- new audio and video controls and background effects
08:54 — Dynamic view- adjusts to prioritize what’s most important
09:45 — Large gallery view- supports up to 49 people
10:04 — Together mode- brings your Team into one virtual shared space
10:57 — AI capabilities- will remove distracting background noise
11:29 — Live captions- see who is speaking
12:09 — Live transcription- see the full transcript accessible in the meeting chat
13:30 — Manage tasks- new unified view to track everything you need to do
Watch our seven-part Teams series at https://aka.ms/MicrosoftTeamsforIT
See how to have multiple copies of Microsoft Teams open https://aka.ms/wfhmechanics.
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- Coming up, a special edition of Microsoft Mechanics. We take a closer look at Microsoft Teams with all the recent news and updates as we tour the end-to-end experience that makes it easier for you to communicate and work more effectively with your teams. So I’m joined today, once again, by Aya Tange from the Microsoft Teams group, welcome back.
- It’s great to be back, Jeremy.
- So thanks so much for joining us today and you’re probably one of the more familiar faces helping guide people through Teams as more and more of us work remotely or in a hybrid work environment.
- Thanks, it’s great to see so many people tune into Mechanics to really learn about Teams. And you’re right, what we’re seeing in this new normal is that a ton of people are using Teams to stay connected. We now have over 75 million daily active users of Teams. And we’ve been working around the clock to make sure you have the best experience possible, which includes optimizing the service and bringing you new experiences that really allow you to have a natural human connection when using Teams, whether that’s joined from the office, from home or remotely.
- I know we’ve seen days with up to 200 million meeting participants alone. So many of us really know Teams is a great way to drive and attend meetings.
- Exactly, but Teams really brings together three main experiences. You have meetings and calling, so you can always stay connected, you have chat so you can collaborate with your team, and you can extend the core experiences further with apps and automation of your everyday business workflows. And of course, all these things are accessible in the browser and across all of your apps, from Windows, Mac, iOS, and Android.
- And if you’re in IT, all of this comes with enterprise-grade security and we’ve covered all the primary IT topics on a Mechanics’ recent seven-part series that you can check out at aka.ms/microsoftteamsforit. So Aya, now we’ve got people that are watching, who are probably either new to Teams or also experienced users, can you walk us through some of the core capabilities and really highlight all the updates along the way?
- Sure, let’s do it. So here I have my Teams app open, and down this left navigation bar, you can see your activity feed, your private chats, teams, as well as calendar and calls. And here, I’ve even pinned a frequently used app called Tasks, which I’ll talk about in a little bit. And by clicking into the ellipses here, I also have access to more and I can pin other apps and customize my navigation bar. But typically, I start my day in the activity feed. So here, I can see everything that’s happening in my teams. I can see my unread messages, my app mentions, my conversation replies and missed calls. Now when I click into Chat, I can see all of my recent one-on-one, group and meeting chats. I can also easily start a chat by clicking here, or I can go to an existing one like this chat with Alex. Now I can type a new message or in right hand corner, I can even call Alex, click down and do video chat, share content or add people. And I can also pop out this Window so I can use multiple chats at the same time. So now let’s jump into the Teams area. Here’s my Contoso Social Media Team. Now typically, people are in a few different teams and you as the organization can decide whether you want Teams at a project level or at departmental level. So you can see right away that we have channels here. Channels really help you have conversations about a particular topic within your team. Channels go bold when someone has posted something new, as indicated here. Now it looks like I have one new notification in my announcements channel. The channels with lock icons are private channels, and you can have invite-only private conversations within a team.
- So I can see where this might be useful, for example, if I had an IT team and I could set up a private channel, maybe just for the managers.
- Exactly, so now you don’t need to create a net new team for this. But now let’s look at this conversation here. It looks like we’ve got a few people working on a project. Notice how natural the dialogue is with the GIFs and conversation. We’ve found that it helps improve team culture by letting people’s personalities come through and of course, still get work done. Now every post has a Reply button, so you can thread related messages together. This makes it really easy to stay on top of things and it’s still pretty lightweight. I can also react to a message, so I’m gonna go ahead and give this one a heart and I can save a message to bookmark it for later. And if I wanna make sure you see my message, I can also use an @mention, this is a great best practice. So let me quickly send this message to you, Jeremy. So don’t forget to review this.
- And I promise I’ll review this right after the show.
- Good, so I also want to show you something else that comes in handy. If you wanna be a bit more formal, you can click here to start a new conversation and I can use the Rich Text Editing icon. So I can give it a subject, so let’s call this AI video and then I can add some text. So I’m gonna say that we have some new features we recently added. I can even make this an announcement to catch people’s eyes or host this exact message in multiple channels or teams, by clicking on the Select Channels button. So I’m gonna go ahead and add this message to the announcements channel.
- And I really like that last capability in particular, it saves a lot of time to really communicate your announcements to lots of different teams. But can you explain the other buttons then, there next to that Rich Text Editor button?
- Of course, so first let me start with attachments. So attachments may seem like a pretty well-known concept, but most people think about it in the context of email. So here for example, I can upload a large video file that I have on my hard drive into Teams. And since everything is in the cloud, I actually don’t have to worry about size limits like I would in email. You can see that this is over a 100 megs and only the people with the right permissions can see it. And now I can upload and post it. You also have all the collaboration benefits like real time co-authoring. So for example, let’s open this PowerPoint file here. You can see other people are already editing it. And here, you can also see all my files that my team has worked on and shared. And of course, because of the native integration with Office 365, not only can you bring in all of your Office files, like Word, Excel, PowerPoint and OneNote directly into Teams, you can edit and create them directly from Teams.
- Okay, so you’ve shown us now files and chat in a team, but can you walk us through the other experiences that you can do in tabs?
- I can, so first one thing to note is that these tabs can vary by channel. So along the top, you’ll see that we’ve personalized and customized this for this specific channel. So here, I have my Power BI dashboard and other apps my team uses regularly. To add a tab, I can just click on the plus sign and I can see apps for Microsoft and other partner apps, services and tools.
- Okay, so let’s move on to meetings because I know that this is a big area focus for us, especially with so many people joining meetings remotely today.
- Yes, the meetings experiences is where we’ve made a ton of updates. So here in my calendar, you can see all my meetings for the week. I can schedule meetings and I have the option to add them to a channel. Of course, I can add people, so let me go ahead and add my colleague, Karan here. And then I can also see his free/busy status by clicking on the scheduling assistant. Well, let me actually join this existing meeting called weekly team discussion. So here is my new pre-join screen, We’ve added quite a few new controls for setting up audio and video. So now I can even select background effects so I can blur my background or I can swap in a different background image. I can also upload my own as well. So I’m gonna go ahead and choose this one. Now, I’ll unmute my microphone and join.
- All right, and you’ll see that the meeting’s in a second popped out Window, and that means you can easily switch back to your primary Teams interface and it’s really great for multi-monitor setup. So once you’re in a meeting though, what options do speakers have then to share their content?
- Sure, so if you haven’t used it before, you can open your share tray in the top right-hand corner. So I can share my entire desktop, my individual app Windows, PowerPoint files that you can see in the middle here or my Microsoft Whiteboard.
- Right, and something cool that you showed was the PowerPoint file approach, and this is actually super network efficient. And we published a show on Microsoft Mechanics, where in my example, I saved about 90% network bandwidth and you can check out that series at aka.ms/wfhmechanics.
- Wow that’s pretty amazing, but beyond sharing content, we actually have some more options for viewing people in content. So what you see here is the new dynamic view, which adjusts to prioritize what’s most important, such as presentation slides or people dialing in with video. Audio-only participants will show up in the right-hand rail. Now when content is shared, participants will shrink and move to the side. But sometimes I wanna pin selected participants while content is shared so that I can actually see, let’s say the presenter. So let me go ahead and pin Marissa here and I can even add, let’s say a sign language interpreter, or key decision maker. So let me go ahead and also pin Sean. Now this makes it really easy for me to see their reactions. Previously, I’d have to decide between content and people. But now with the new dynamic view, I can actually see both.
- So, how many video feeds now can we see in the context of a Teams meeting?
- Sure, so there are a couple of options that we’ve recently added to make sure that we accommodate different meeting sizes. So in the default gallery view, which I’m currently in, you can see nine people. We can also switch to the large gallery view, which supports up to 49 people.
- Right, I know a lot of people have really been waiting for this.
- I know, but it gets even better. We also recently announced a new video meeting experience called Together mode, which brings you and your Team into one virtual shared space. With a click, it’s like all of us are sitting together in an auditorium. Now this encourages natural human interaction and also helps avoid people from speaking over each other.
- And it’s really great because you can catch nonverbal cues a lot easier, like nods of approval or raised eyebrows, smiling or even a physically raised hand.
- Exactly, so this is a great option for meetings, town halls, classroom discussions, or sporting events. Together mode can support up to 49 people, and we’ll also be adding other types of settings, such as conference rooms, coffee tables, and study halls over time.
- And this will now make everyone feel more connected in the meeting experience. But what else are we doing then specifically, to help with people joining from remote locations?
- Sure, so we’ve also introduced new AI capabilities, which will remove distracting background noise. So here in fact is my colleague Marissa, who is joining us to help illustrate this.
- So for example, if I’m talking and someone starts vacuuming in the background, it can be really distracting. But when we enable background noise suppression in Teams, you will find that the distraction’s been removed and I can be heard crystal clear.
- So this all really helps improve the experience so you can really focus on the people and the content they’re sharing.
- Right, and we’re making meetings even more accessible and inclusive in other ways. Now many of us have been using live captions in team meetings to actually follow along with the conversation. But one of the problems we’ve had in the past is that you have really no way of knowing who is saying what, which makes it particularly challenging for those with hearing difficulties. But now when I turn on live captions, you can actually see who is speaking,
- This is especially helpful when someone is presenting and you can’t see the person talking.
- And we’ve all been in those meetings with a lot of people, maybe with similar voices or people that we haven’t met yet. And now we can address them by their first names.
- Exactly, and along those lines, we’ve also added live transcription, which is recorded during the meeting. So now I can read up on anything that was being said in the meeting, especially if I’ve missed something.
- And this will really save a lot of time I think, for anyone who’s taken a lot of notes during the meeting, and now it’s all using speech-to-text AI.
- Right, so when I leave the meeting, you’ll see the full transcript accessible in the meeting chat. So this is available to all participants to view. So here is a sample transcript, so you can read what was discussed, any action items and of course, who said them.
- So these are updates, I think that a lot of people have had on their wishlist for a while and let’s go back down the left nav bar really, to resume our tour of Microsoft Teams.
- Sure, so not only can you join meetings, but of course, you can also make calls. So as I click in, you can see that we have voice calling, which can be done with all of your internal and external contacts that are using Teams. So voice calls are built in, but if you have integrated PSTN calling with Microsoft Teams, you’ll see your phone number and even a dialing pad to make regular phone calls. So I can even call my parents in Japan if I wanted to, for example.
- And if you don’t see that dial pad, it means that you’re not configured for PSTN calling, but it’s really easy for Teams admins to add phone system and a calling plan or direct routing to make those types of calls. But going back to the left nav bar, the last item that you mentioned here was Tasks.
- Yes, so this is one of my new favorite capabilities in Teams. So one of the things that we’ve tried to solve for is to give you one place where you can keep track of all of your actions that you’ve assigned to yourself via To Do and others that have assigned to you via Planner. So here you can see that we’ve built a unified view to track everything you need to do in one place. So let me open this task called Earnings Report and I can see where it’s from, the status and make updates right from here. Actually, this is the PowerPoint I was working on earlier, so I can go ahead and mark this complete.
- And that’s super helpful, thanks so much Aya for the comprehensive tour and especially all the recent updates for meetings. And of course, we didn’t have time to go through every single aspect of Teams, like options for creating teams and channels or all the different administrative settings, security and compliance options. So be sure to check out aka.ms/microsoftteamsforit to see all of that in action and more. And of course, subscribe to Microsoft Mechanics for the latest updates. Thanks for watching.