A week after collaboration leader, Cisco previewed an AR-powered Webex meeting solution designed for the future of work - Microsoft announced it has plans to do the same. "Mesh for Microsoft Teams," upon its release, could power a new generation of 2D and 3D virtual meetings. At least that is what the folks at Microsoft desire, anyway.

Microsoft Corporate Vice President Jared Spataro; explains: 

"We are taking that experience and building Mesh right into Teams, recreating a lot of what we value about being together and extending productivity beyond what was previously possible.”

Similar to Cisco's offering, Mesh will extend the use of personalized avatars capable of making realistic-looking AI-powered movements and gestures. The purpose is to recapture human movement, bringing the physical presence of employees into virtual meeting spaces.


Microsoft Teams AR


Microsoft's immersive AR meeting experience will let enterprise meetings users create spaces that mirror conference rooms, design centers, networking lounges, and other real-world places. Building on existing Microsoft Teams features like Together Mode/Presenter View, Microsoft developers hope to change the way meetings of the future look.

Set for a 2022 release, Mesh for Microsoft Teams rolls out across PCs, smartphones, and various mixed reality headsets. 


Avatar Customizer Microsoft AR


Microsoft Teams gained a lot of other new capabilities at this year's Microsoft Ignite event, which ended today. The three-day developer, partner, and consumer conference was full of announcements, including fresh hybrid meeting experiences powered by new partner hardware.

Microsoft also introduced shared channel meetings, brand-new webinar/broadcasting capabilities, access to third-party apps that integrate with Teams. Teams users can now leverage Atlassian Jira Cloud, SAP, and ServiceNow integrations along with the newly-redesigned Teams Store.


Teams Connect Gains Chat, New Admin Options

Microsoft Teams Connect lets users share channels in Microsoft Teams across multiple organizations, solving an oftentimes annoying issue - who to grant guess access to? What if it does not work? What about those other folks who want to sit in on the virtual deal closing?

That is exactly what Teams Connect aims to eliminate - also letting users schedule a shared channel meeting, use Microsoft apps across organizations, and share individual Teams Connect channels with up to 50 teams.

  • Surface hub management lets users manage Surface Hub whiteboards from the Teams admin center, with Microsoft managed services - a feature set for availability by the end of 2021.
  • Microsoft also enhanced its search functionality. Now admins search for any function in the Teams admin center and an app discovery tool can find relevant applications.

Now available in public preview is a new device analytics dashboard, 'Workspace view,' which offers up a view of the performance of the technology in (a) space, management of connected devices, and priority account notifications/alerts. 

Perhaps one of the coolest new features - Teams users have more options to add non-Teams users to a Teams meeting. This includes platforms like Webex and Zoom, and it can be done from a Teams Room device. Support for GoToMeeting and BlueJeans, Microsoft notes, will become available during the first half of 2022.


Webinar, Workflow Apps, Chat Updates

Microsoft said that it plans to roll out a series of new features between now and early 2022 for Teams chat; including a feature called: chat-with-yourself, which lets users send themselves messages and reminders within Microsoft Teams chats.

Microsoft also has plans to introduce a delay message delivery feature, which lets users schedule a message for delivery at a specific delivery time and that it will update its search results UI (user interface) to enable users to filter search results in chat. Users can also soon toggle between tabs to locate desired information.

Microsoft further noted that it would introduce a feature that lets users select what it calls compact or comfortable mode - allowing them to customize the number of chat messages they see. The 'compact mode' feature makes 50% more messages show up on a screen to reduce scrolling.

Microsoft Teams users are used to 'comfortable mode,' as it is the current default from within Teams chat. 


Greenrooms, Event Controls, and More

Hoping to capture a part of the market that focuses on delivering digital content, be it webinars, conferences, or virtual events - Microsoft said it would add a number of features designed to produce high-quality webinars, etc. Green-room technology will be available in preview in early 2022.

Event control for webinar hosts will let them control the kind of webinar experience participants have so that virtual eventgoers see only what gets broadcast on screen, a feature set for preview availability in early 2022. For webinars with up to ten organizers, Microsoft will launch a new way for those individuals to manage their webinars by creating polls, and controlling audio settings, a feature set for general availability by the end of the year.

Updates to Q&A in Teams are on the way. Set for preview in November 2021, with the feature you can label 'best answers,' filter responses, dismiss questions, and even pin posts such as welcome messages or important team-wide announcements.

For event producers, isolated audio feeds will soon grace the Teams platform, allowing them to create an audio mix leveraging isolated audio feeds from different individuals - set for preview November 2021. Microsoft added integration with the hospitality management platform - Cvent integration to handle functions like registration and agenda management.

The collaboration giant unmasked a new app called Microsoft Loop - an app that extends the use of collaborative workspaces that span the workflow of many Microsoft 365 apps. The application is one modeled with the Fluid Framework open-source platform.


New Partner Hardware

Finally, the Washington-based tech firm introduced the Yealink (deskVision) AIO24 and a standalone touchscreen device for Microsoft Teams. You can leverage the technology as a sole device or as a second screen. With a native Teams display experience, it also has another seemingly arbitrary, yet cool feature.

It can charge PCs and mobile devices. Such a capability, undoubtedly aimed at the remote worker - the device is set to support the Microsoft Teams hot-desking in 2022.


Yealink deskVision AIO24


Logitech Tap Scheduler Microsoft


Microsoft also announced the Logitech Tap Scheduler - a device that lets users see meeting room availability, location information, and meeting details. By the end of 2021 - users will even gain the ability to check into a room using sensor integrations.