Microsoft Ignite: Intelligent speakers and new features announced for Microsoft Teams

Updates and new hardware for Microsoft Teams are part of the push for the future of work.

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Microsoft Teams intelligent speakers in use in the workspace.

Image: Microsoft

Microsoft Teams is getting new features and Teams-certified devices, as announced at Microsoft Ignite on Tuesday. The digital event runs from March 2-4 with keynotes, roundtables and virtual training days.

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Now that meeting rooms are all over the world for work teams, it's important for people to be heard and seen clearly. So Microsoft has new gallery views in Team Rooms so meeting content can be seen whether a room has one screen or two. And now there is new certified hardware with audio and video optimized for Microsoft Teams meetings and calls. The Dell Video Conferencing Monitor and the Poly Studio P21 are certified monitors for Teams. They integrate a microphone, speaker, camera and the P21 includes lights as well, according to a Microsoft press release.

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Intelligent speaker

Image: Microsoft

Microsoft is also introducing intelligent speakers later in 2021. The speakers use advanced speech recognition and can identify the people speaking in a Microsoft Teams Room. The speakers include a 7-array microphone that uses artificial intelligence to identify the voices of up to 10 people in meetings. Their name and profile will be applied to the live meeting transcript. For privacy, users can turn attribution on or off during the meeting, according to the press release.

Additional security, privacy and compliance features will include invite-only meeting controls that will be available in March so that only intended participants are in a meeting. 

End-to-end encryption will be available for commercial customers in preview during the first half of 2021. Teams will support E2EE for the enterprise to help clients meet security and compliance regulations with an additional option for sensitive online conversations. 

Team multigeo support will be available in the first half of 2021 as well. Multigeo support for Teams data will give multinational organizations more control over the location of specific data centers where their Teams data is stored, down to the team and user level.

Disable video will be available in the first half of 2021 so that potential disruptions are limited. There are also chat moderation controls that were previously announced. 

Teams can now support interactive customer webinars for up to 1,000 attendees and deliver webinars as part of Dynamics 365 Marketing campaigns. Later this year, Teams will include an option to export webinar contacts directly from Teams into Dynamics 365 Marketing to enable engagement with audiences as part of the event as well as before and after.

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By Teena Maddox

Teena Maddox is a former Associate Managing Editor at TechRepublic. She oversees TechRepublic's news team and TechRepublic Premium. She focuses on tech and business and how the two worlds intersect. Teena's lifelong journalism career has included wri...