Microsoft: Watch out Zoom, Microsoft Teams is finally catching up

Microsoft: Watch out Zoom, Microsoft Teams is finally catching up

Microsoft: Watch out Zoom, Microsoft Teams is finally catching up

Teams match Zoom with up to 49 participants on-screen directly

Microsoft Teams is about to extend the amount of video conference participants which will appear on-screen directly to 49, from the present maximum of nine.

The change will see Microsoft’s collaboration offering match rival service Zoom and surpass Google Meet, which only allows 16 attendees to feature on-screen.

The new feature won't be available immediately, however, but will enter preview this month before general release within the autumn.

Microsoft Teams update

The popularity of Microsoft Teams has skyrocketed in recent months in line with the shift to remote working and e-learning caused the pandemic.

In a recent conversation with TechRadar Pro, Microsoft executive Nick Hedderman explained the service now sees 75 million daily active users. In April, meanwhile, Microsoft Teams supported 200 million meeting participants during a single day, accounting for roughly 4 billion meeting minutes.

The latest update is a component of a wider drive to enhance the platform from an education perspective and address a couple of shortcomings felt most acutely by teachers.

Beyond allowing teachers to interact with a greater number of virtual pupils directly, Teams for Education also will receive a hand raise facility and a Zoom-Esque Breakout Rooms feature, which provides the decision administrator the power to separate attendees into smaller groups.

In the coming months, Microsoft has also said it'll introduce more granular controls for teachers, allowing them to manage precisely which participants can start, join, and present in video meetings. New Attendance Reports and sophistication Insights also will afford teachers a far better grasp of student engagement levels.

“We take ideas from engineering and merchandise managers here within Microsoft, but also from our users also,” said Hedderman. “We listen very carefully and adjust where we’re spending our time.”

However, while the merits of a greater number of attendees on-screen are clear in an education context, Microsoft is hesitant to recommend businesses adopt an equivalent approach.

“Prior to lockdown, the overwhelming majority of Teams meetings would typically involve some sort of [screen-] sharing, so seeing many of us wasn’t so necessary. But [when the lockdown was introduced] there was definitely this immediate knee-jerk reaction to require to ascertain more faces,” Hedderman explained.

“But I still challenge our customers on whether or not they are focused on the incorrect thing. Are you running an excellent meeting? Are you maximizing technology to urge the foremost out of that meeting?”

“Perhaps it’s about being less worried about seeing faces and more about ensuring content is out there and being collaborated within the right way.”

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