Innovation

4 new Microsoft 365 updates that could improve collaboration among your team

Microsoft 365 updates include a free version of Teams, Microsoft Whiteboard, improved analytics, and more.

Since Microsoft 365's launch last year, the platform has seen a growth rate of more than 100%, the company announced in a Thursday press release. The system is designed to enable organizations to reach optimum communication and collaboration—from anywhere in the world.

On Thursday, the company revealed a number of updates to both Microsoft 365 and the Microsoft Teams group chat software, which combines meetings, notes, chat, and attachments to help offices work better together.

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Here are the four new features for the Teams app and Microsoft 365, and what you can expect from thee updates, according to a Thursday news briefing.

1. A free version of Microsoft Teams

After its launch last year, Microsoft Teams now functions in more than 200,000 businesses across 181 markets, according to the press release. In an effort to make Teams more accessible to all professionals, Microsoft is releasing a free version on Thursday, which is available worldwide in 40 languages.

According to the release, the free version can work for up to 300 people in an organization, and includes unlimited chat messages and search, built-in audio and video calling, 10GB of team file storage (and 2GB per person for personal storage), integration of Office Online apps, and unlimited business app integrations. The paid version provides the same features, but with more storage, enterprise security, and accessibility for an entire organization, no matter the size, said the release.

2. Intelligent event functionality in 365

In Microsoft 365, users can create live and on-demand events, the company announced in the news briefing. Events can either be viewed live, or be played back after the fact, both with interactive discussion. Artificial intelligence (AI) improves the on-demand feature with a speaker timeline, using facial detection to determine who is talking, transcription and transcript search, and closed captioning, said the release.

3. Improved Workplace Analytics

Using collaborative insights from Microsoft Graph, Workplace Analytics uses aggregate data to help improve team collaboration, share insights, and recommend habits to particular teams, said the release. The habit-changing tips are powered by MyAnalytics, which has the capability to suggest that users take some time to themselves, or flag that someone is emailing a coworker after hours, in hopes of improving work/life balance, according to the release.

4. Microsoft Whiteboard

Microsoft Whiteboard is now available on Windows 10, but is also coming soon to iOS, said the release. People can collaborate in real-time using the Whiteboard application, which lets users create tables, freeform drawings, insert images, or write down notes in one space—regardless of the individual user's location. Whiteboard provides remote employees and workers who are traveling the ability to collaborate and ideate with their in-office workers.

The big takeaways for tech leaders:

  • Microsoft is releasing new features for 365, including a free version of Microsoft Teams, intelligent event capabilities, improved Workplace Analytics, and Microsoft Whiteboard.
  • The new features allow for more seamless collaboration and communication between remote and global employees.

Also see

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Image: iStockphoto/jacoblund

About Macy Bayern

Macy Bayern is an Associate Staff Writer for TechRepublic. A recent graduate from the University of Texas at Austin's Liberal Arts Honors Program, Macy covers tech news and trends.

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