Microsoft Teams for Meetings and Calling

by | Aug 29, 2018 | Office 365 news

Screenshot of Microsoft Teams - a meeting with five people

Late last week, Microsoft advised the world that the planned integration of features and functionality from Skype for Business Online into Microsoft Teams was completed. This made, in Microsoft’s words, “Teams ready to meet your messaging, meeting and calling needs.” Microsoft then provided a great list of noteworthy capabilities that are now available in Microsoft Teams, including integration with Skype room systems and end user devices for meetings and calling.

Members of the Microsoft Teams community were quick with two types of feedback: the congratulatory side, and the “but-this-still-doesn’t-work” push-backs. For example, community members pointed out the lack of:

  • A compact mode, so more interaction fits onto one screen.
  • Stability and reliability, because Teams crashes too often and stops working.
  • The ability to joint a Teams meeting from a Polycom VVX phone via touch.
  • The ability to add another PSTN caller to a current phone call.
  • Mapping of caller IDs to a local address book.
  • The ability to add external or federated contacts to a contact group.
  • Desktop sharing during one-to-one chats.
  • Pop-up options for chat windows.
  • General purpose capabilities for online webinars, such as turning off chat for all attendees, muting audio for all attendees, running a moderated Q&A, and real-time polls. While some of these are available in the new Teams Live Events, they come with an unacceptable time delay that makes it unusable for interactive webinars.
  • Outlook meeting scheduling in Mac, OWA and mobile.
  • … and more.

Many of these issues are about the use of Microsoft Teams for calling and conferencing, which is a separate use case than team collaboration. Whenever a vendor collapses capabilities from multiple products into a new single product, there’s always going to be speed bumps along the way. Customers who loved and embraced earlier product features want to see those carried forward, and either that’s not always possible in the same way, or the timeframe for getting there is too long. I don’t see a disavowal of Microsoft’s strategic intent with Microsoft Teams among the community members, but I do see a desire for Microsoft to do it right. And as soon as possible. And if not as soon as possible, then as accurately and truly and correctly as possible.

There remain some items in the list above that apply more broadly to Microsoft Teams, such as the reliability and stability of the client (d’oh, crashed again!). We would like to see Microsoft pay more attention in the short term to resolving some of these long running issues, because if it ain’t stable, it ain’t going anywhere. Being the new kid on the block will get you an initial pass to explore what’s available, but if the new kid can’t meet the expectations put on him or her, the world will bypass the offer and reject the new. Introducing change in how people work together using modern collaboration tools is what we do at Silverside, but if new ways are undermined by unreliable and unstable tools, you quickly conclude that the new ways don’t actually work. And that’s not helpful.

We really like what we see available in Microsoft Teams for team collaboration – the text chat, the tabs, the shared files, the app integrations, and more. It’s a significant innovation for the Office 365 toolkit for modern collaboration. We hope the wider use cases and larger scale dream around meetings and calling doesn’t undermine the team collaboration story.