Microsoft Announces Teams Premium Add-on, Mesh Avatars Preview, More

Posted on October 12, 2022 by Laurent Giret in Cloud, Microsoft 365, Office 365 with 4 Comments

As Microsoft is kicking off its Ignite 2022 conference this morning, the company detailed several updates coming to Microsoft Teams, which remains one of the fastest-growing apps within the Microsoft 365 ecosystem. Jared Spataro, CVP of Modern Work at Microsoft confirmed that the app continues to enjoy real momentum this year.

“With more than 270 million monthly active users, Teams has changed how people work more than any other app in the past 20 years. We’ve introduced more than 450 new Teams capabilities in the past year alone to transform meeting culture and keep everyone in the flow of work,” the exec said today.

The Microsoft Teams updates the software giant announced today include a private preview of Mesh avatars, a new Teams Premium meeting offering, as well as new chat and collaboration features.

Microsoft Teams Premium

Microsoft Teams Premium is a new offering for organizations needing some extra capabilities to make the most of their meetings. The exclusive features include Meeting guides that can be customized by IT pros, intelligent meeting recaps, and AI-generated tasks that are automatically assigned from meetings.

For organizations using Teams meetings with external audiences, Teams Premium will also support advanced webinars with a registration waitlist, manual approvals, and the ability to manage what attendees will see. In B2C environments, Microsoft Teams Premium will also support advanced virtual appointments with a branded lobby experience, post-appointment follow-ups, and other features to ensure a better relationship with customers.

The Premium add-on for Microsoft Teams will also add watermarking support and other security features for board meetings, financial discussions, or confidential product launches. Teams Premium will launch in preview in December 2022 and it will be generally available in February 2023. It will be priced at $10 per user per month.

Teams Mesh Avatars Launch in private preview

Mesh avatars in Teams are Microsoft’s take on the virtual avatars that Zoom, Apple Facetime, or Meta’s Horizon Worlds platform have been pushing to make meetings more fun. Mesh avatars for Teams meetings are now available in private preview, and they will let users create their own avatars to use during meetings.

“Our data shows that 51% of Gen Z envisions working in the metaverse in the next two years. With Mesh avatars for Teams, you can create custom avatars to represent yourself—so you can take a break from the camera but still have a physical presence in Teams meetings,” Jared Spataro explained.

Microsoft’s Mesh Avatars announcement follows the company’s partnership with Meta to bring an immersive Teams meeting experience to Meta Quest VR headsets. Microsoft Teams Meetings on the Meta Quest will use Meta’s avatar system, and Meta’s Horizon Workrooms VR platform is also adding support for Microsoft Teams meetings.

Microsoft Teams chat and channel updates

Microsoft detailed today new chat features coming to Teams including Schedule send, the ability to delete chat conversions and leave group chats, as well as a mention @everyone feature for group chats. Expanded reactions will also allow users to use over 800 emojis to react to messages.

The channel experience in Teams is also being improved with the ability to pin posts, customize the channel header, and pop out a channel conversation in a separate window. Teams channels are also getting support for different post types including announcements and video clips.

Microsoft Teams was one of the first apps that added support for Microsoft Loop components, which enable fluid collaboration across the Microsoft 365 ecosystem. Today, Microsoft announced that Teams users can now insert a Loop component into a Dynamics 365 record right from a Teams chat. You can learn more details about Microsoft Loop components updates in our separate post.

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