Thanks to the COVID-19 pandemic, Microsoft has expanded the capabilities of Microsoft 365 generally, and Microsoft Teams specifically, to meet the suddenly shifting demands of working and learning from home. Not that Teams wasn’t already in the fast lane in terms of upgrades: Since its introduction three years ago, Teams has exploded from a functionality perspective, growing from a Slack-like chat-based collaboration tool into an extensible platform that some within Microsoft see as replacing even Windows. Either way, today’s Teams is almost unrecognizable as the more humble chat solution that debuted back in 2017.
Buried among the many, many improvements that Teams has received this year is an interesting but potentially confusing hardware peripheral dubbed the Microsoft Teams Display. As I wrote in early July, these smart displays are “a new family of all-in-one dedicated Teams devices that feature an ambient touchscreen and a hands-free experience powered by Cortana. ‘With natural language, users can ask Cortana to effortlessly join and present in meetings, dictate replies to a Teams chat, and more,’ Microsoft says. The Microsoft Teams displays will provide a camera shutter and microphone mute switch, and Lenovo will be first to market with its ThinkSmart View.”