AI News, Microsoft Teams FAQ

Microsoft Teams updates, Files On-Demand for Mac, and more—here’s what’s new for Microsoft 365 in January

Microsoft is has been hard at work to improve its services for users this month on various platforms.

The new features include mobile features such as location sharing for mobile users as, a new smart camera feature, as well as applying prepackaged or custom policies to control which models employees access.

Microsoft 365 users will also be able to take advantage of the new Compliance Manager, allowing admins to set new privacy settings and access tools to respond to regulations such as those from GDPR and from other countries.

Microsoft notes the tools provide “security and compliance professionals to centrally manage Microsoft 365 services with a unified experience and insights powered by artificial intelligence (AI).”

Microsoft Teams: Its features, how it compares to Slack and other rivals

Microsoft launched Teams as its own take on the booming market for group messaging apps led by Slack and now also fought over by Google, Facebook and Cisco, to name but a few.

While Microsoft has effectively been playing catch up with Slack, it has quickly positioned Teams as the central hub for communications and collaboration within Office 365 – as evidenced by the decision to replace Skype for Business with Teams.  In fact, it may have already caught up with its rival: a survey report from Spiceworks indicated that Teams is now more widely used than Slack and is set for faster growth over the next two years.

“It certainly has shifted from being a sort of tactical experiment project a few years ago to becoming strategic for Microsoft.” At its most basic level, Teams is a messaging tool that enables text communications between users, whether they are in the same office or work remotely.  It supports group chat rooms with threaded conversations, as well as private messages between individuals.

“It is a simple conversation method that most people will be able to understand,” said Gartner research director Larry Cannell.  However, he notes that Teams is more than a communications tool: it also combines strong content collaboration features, thanks to integration with Microsoft’s software portfolio.

“It is just not about group chat, it also about group file-sharing and content collaboration.”   Microsoft launched its app directory in January 2018 and Teams integrates with numerous third party bots and applications including project management tools like Trello, Smartsheet and Wrike.  [

For example, Google’s Hangouts Chat and Hangouts Meet also offer a “suite”-based approach, and are available alongside Google’s G Suite productivity tools such as Gmail, Docs and Sheets.  Cisco’s Webex Teams – formerly Spark – mirrors Microsoft’s app in more than name, with a similar focus on unified communications as well as group chat, while a plethora of establish unified communication vendors and startups have thrown their hat into the ring.  Despite strong vendor interest in offering team collaboration, it remains a relatively new technology for many business IT users.

While some employees are eager to try new tools such as Microsoft Teams, many are more often content to stick to familiar apps and may need more encouragement to embrace a new way of working.  “If you have been using Outlook as the center of your world for the best part of 10, 15 or 20 years, then moving to anything else is always going to present a challenge, unless you can see unequivocally that it is a better environment to get work done,” Edwards said.

“Developing governance and security strategies and processes, then putting the organization’s weight behind proper training, are steps that many organizations overlook,” said Willis.  This can lead to situations “where their employees either aren’t utilizing the new software,” or the exact opposite – utilization spins out of control “before anyone can steer organizational processes toward even a modest amount of structure.” One of the most significant developments around Teams was Microsoft’s decision to replace Skype for Business with Teams.

“We quickly moved from Teams as the chat-based workspace to the hub for teamwork,” said Lori Wright, general manager for Microsoft Teams, “and what we saw was that collaboration and communications are inextricably linked: you can't have true collaboration if you don't have the ability to communicate, to have unified communications, to make a phone call, to have a voice or video meeting.

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