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Microsoft Teams to add features as worldwide usage soars

A 40 percent increase in demand, an outage on Monday and new features coming including noise suppression for kids and pets

On the three-year anniversary of Teams, Microsoft is revealing new features to the service, as growth surges to an unprecedented level. Teams suffered an outage on Monday as demand for the communication and chat app surged worldwide with people working and learning from home. The Verge reports that Microsoft counted 32 million daily active users of Teams last week on March 11th, but this jumped by 12 million to 44 million daily active users yesterday.

The nearly 40 percent increase in demand comes as many businesses adjust to remote work and school closures require the adoption of e-learning techniques. Microsoft’s new Teams features are designed to improve remote meetings as they become the default work mode rather than the pre-pandemic exception.

Microsoft is planning to introduce a new real-time noise suppression feature for Teams meetings later this year. This will come in handy to manage our new co-workers–aka our kids and pets– as we attempt to navigate virtual meetings (or just invite the cats and live with it).

The feature will use artificial intelligence to remove background noise from calls automatically, focusing the attention of your microphone on what you’re actually saying instead of the noise around you–much as we have been doing in the Pro AV space for awhile.

Teams will also get a “raise hand” feature later this year.

Teams is also getting an offline mode for reading Teams chat messages and drafting responses when there’s no internet connectivity. Teams will also soon support the ability to pop out chats into separate windows, so you can quickly switch between conversations. All of these features are coming “later this year” and are clearly designed to improve meeting scenarios and remote working.

Because remote working is expected to continue, even when the immediate emergency has passed.

“I really do think it’s an inflection point,” Microsoft 365 chief Jared Spataro told The Verge. “We’re going to look back and realize this is where it all changed. We’re never going to go back to working the way that we did.” Microsoft’s own teams are experiencing this themselves as the company had to scale up its remote workforce with all of it’s its 50,000 employees in the Seattle region working from home.

Microsoft’s new Teams features and daily active numbers come just a day after Slack launched its biggest redesign yet.



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