We’ve been using Teams since well before remote working became more mainstream as a result of COVID, and it’s been amazing seeing the accelerated progress of feature releases from Microsoft on the app.

With that said, it’s easy to miss some of the more useful stuff that gets released. Lucky for you, we’re here :)

Here are 6 cool new features in Microsoft Teams you may have missed (December 2020 edition)

1. Windows 10 native notifications

You can now choose how you want to receive your Teams notifications, either via the Teams built-in notification system or via your native OS notification system. 

Should you wish to change notifications of Teams messages from the Teams app to the native Windows OS notification system, you can do so in the Teams Notifications settings:

2. Meeting chat moderation settings

Organisers can now manage participants’ ability to chat before, during and after a meeting. Just set the “Allow meeting chat” setting within the Meeting options. This will enable them to manage participants ability to chat before, during and after a meeting

Note: There are 3 options for this setting:

  1. On (default): allows chat at any time.
  2. Off: will make meeting chat read-only and no one can send messages in chat including the organiser.
  3. During the meeting only: participants can send messages during the meeting only and the organiser can send messages all the time.

3. Virtual Breakout Rooms

Breakout rooms allow meeting organisers to split main meetings into smaller sessions for focused discussions.

Follow the steps below to set up and use Breakout rooms:

Administrators

  1. As an admin, ensure users can schedule private meetings with the following settings:
  2.   Allow scheduling private meeting = on
  3.   Allow Meet now in private meeting = on
  4.   Allow channel meeting scheduling = on
  5.   Allow meet now in channels = on 

Meeting organisers and Participants

1. To see the breakout rooms option within your meetings, you must turn on the new Teams meeting experience by

  1. Clicking on your profile image within Teams
  2. Selecting Settings
  3. Checking the “Turn on new meeting experience” option within General settings.
  4. Restart your Teams client.
  5. You can double-check that the setting is set up correctly by starting a meeting and verifying that the meeting opens in its own window.

2. Make sure all participants, including the meeting organiser, are using the latest version of Teams. If joining on Android or iOS mobile or tablet, make sure participants go to their App Store and download the latest update.

3. As a meeting organiser, join a channel / private scheduled meeting, or channel / private meet now meeting. Once you are in the meeting you should see the breakout room option next to the raise hand control.

  • You must be a meeting organiser to see the option. Meeting attendees and presenters will not see the breakout rooms option.

What you need to do to prepare:

As an admin, review and share the settings to ensure they are set correctly for your organisation and your users.

Additionally, you may wish to share the information below with your users to help them prepare.

Features available for organiser:

  •   Breakout room setup on Teams desktop client
  •   Create breakout rooms in scheduled private meetings (including recurring) and private meet now meetings
  •   Meeting organisers can manage rooms and hop between rooms freely
  •   Setup breakout rooms during an active meeting
  •   Create up to 50 breakout rooms in a single meeting
  •   Add, remove, delete breakout rooms
  •   Rename rooms to the title of your choice
  •   Reassign room participants from one room to another before as well as while the rooms are open
  •   Room transition: as an organiser, you can decide if participants get moved to the room automatically when you open the room, or if they need to click to confirm the move. The “auto-accept” setting is available per meeting.
  •   Send an announcement that will show up as a meeting chat message in each room.
  •   Chats, files, and recordings: only the organiser will always have access to all rooms meeting artifacts

Features available for the participants::

  •   Join breakout rooms from web, desktop, iOS, iPad, Android mobiles and tablets. Note that organisers cannot move participants who joined via Desk phones or Teams devices join a breakout room, they can stay in the main meeting as their breakout room.
  •   Participants join the room as presenters, so they can present, share Whiteboard, etc. freely.
  •   Participants cannot add others to meeting chat, copy meeting details, nudge others to the meeting, or use “call me back”
  •   Hoping between rooms: Meeting participants cannot hop back to the main meeting or between rooms on their own. They must wait for the meeting organiser to pull them back to the main meeting.
  •   Chat during the breakout session. Chat and artifacts shared during a meeting are viewable for room participants.
  •   Chats, files, and recordings: Participants have access to artifacts, but only the organiser has access to the links – if a link is shared by meeting organiser, then participants will have access
  •   Multi-device join: breakout room is not supported when the participant joins the same meeting and same account from multiple devices

Where and when can I set up breakout rooms?

  •   You can set up breakout rooms after you join the meeting as the organiser. You can bulk create rooms at the start, or manually add or remove rooms.
  •   You can set up breakout rooms from a desktop client, but not in mobile and web.
  •   We plan to enable the ability for you to set up breakout rooms before the meeting very soon.

When can I assign participants to a breakout room?

  •   You can assign participants when you are setting up the rooms. You can do so manually before the rooms open or reassign participants to a different room while the room is open.
  •   You can also auto-assign the participants to rooms when you first set up the rooms in the meeting.

4. Transfer Teams meeting between devices or add another device

To transfer a meeting from one device to another or add a companion device:

  •   Open Teams (mobile app or desktop app) on the second device
  •   On the banner advising that the meeting is in progress, select Join.
  •   Then select “Add this device” or “Transfer to this device”

5. Reducing background noise in Microsoft Teams meetings

Users with the Microsoft Teams desktop app for Windows can now choose between three levels of noise suppression designed to reduce distraction due to noise during meetings.

The four settings are Auto (default), Low, High, and Off.

They are accessible from the profile image > Settings before a meeting and from More options > Device settings during a meeting.

When left on the default setting, Auto, the Teams app sets noise suppression based on ambient sound.

  • Low is designed for persistent background noise like an air conditioner, computer fan, or music.
  • High suppresses all background sound that is not speech; this setting uses more computer resources.
  • Off disables the noise suppression feature.

6. Creating customised meetings experiences with apps in Microsoft Teams

There are now three new surfaces for Teams meetings: a pre-and post-meeting tab; an in-meeting side panel; and in-meeting content notifications.

This is a net new feature and apps must continue to honour the app permission policies that administrators have set for their users and organisation.

Three new meeting surfaces

As part of this new feature, anonymous users can also interact with apps. They will not be able to add, remove, or configure apps, but they will be able to interact with apps. 

These anonymous users will get the global default user-level app permission policy so another way to control it is by using the user-level global app permission policy. If you do not wish for anonymous users to be able to interact with apps, you can disable the feature in the Teams admin portal under Meeting settings.