Microsoft Touts Progress Of Teams Chat App

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Teams, which began rolling out to Office 365 subscribers a year ago, is Microsoft's answer to the Slack messaging platform.

Microsoft's AI has also made it easier to initiate and participate in Teams chats. ConocoPhillips, General Motors, Macys, NASCAR, and Technicolor are among the 200,000 organizations using Teams today, said Lori Wright, Microsoft's GM of Teams and Skype for Business, in a No Jitter briefing. Features coming in the second quarter of 2018 include cloud recording, inline message translation, Cortana, background blur on video, proximity detections, and more. But, more importantly for those that are using the software, the company is sharing a few features that are working their way down the pipeline.

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Microsoft says that its new Direct Routing service will transform Teams into a "full voice service" that works for both calling and meeting room devices. It is created to work with Windows 10 Ink as well, and allows users to collaborate more effectively in meetings including interacting with other teams using a Surface Hub remotely. To help participants see you more clearly, the system will blur out a distracting background, putting the focus of the video on you rather than any clutter behind. A future upgrade will include facial recognition so that comments can be assigned to specific individuals.

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The latest enhancements break down along the lines of features and functionality, calling, and device support, Wright said. This will allow a person to "to easily make a call, join a meeting, or add other people to a meeting in Teams using spoken, natural language". This includes Surface Hub, the large-screen video collaboration device for huddle spaces and other small-to-medium meeting rooms.

Unlike Slack, Teams unsurprisingly does not seek to dispense with corporate email, opting to integrate messaging with office apps (such as Outlook) as a collaborative tool. The company shared today Teams will pick up consultative transfer and call delegation and federation features.

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