July 9, 2020
Microsoft has rolled out a suite of new features to help its Teams software compete with workplace communication competitors Slack and Zoom.
Video conferencing tools have surged since the COVID-19 pandemic began. As companies shifted to all-remote setups, in order to avoid in-office interaction, they began to employ tools like Teams to maintain face-to-face communication.
"We believe that the future of work is being shaped right now," Jared Spataro, a corporate vice president of Microsoft 365, told Cheddar on Thursday.
Courtesy of Microsoft
Spataro says that while some of the new Teams features incorporate emojis and Microsoft's AI voice assistant Cortana, the headline add-on is "Together Mode." It gives users the ability to hold meetings in virtual rooms — that actually look like rooms
"It essentially takes AI technology and allows you to cut out people who are in a meeting and put them into the same background," Spataro said. "Our research shows us that even though that sounds very simple, it actually makes a really big difference when it comes to meeting fatigue."
While the only available setting now is a simple auditorium, Spataro says Microsoft is working on building different environments like conference rooms and even a 'virtual cafe.'