The past year has introduced many of us to online conferencing platforms such as Microsoft Teams, but the latest releases from its parent company seem to suggest that video calls are definitely here to stay.
The video conferencing space has seen huge growth across the world during the pandemic, as workforces are forced to work from home, with online meetings the best way to keep in touch.
But after this initial surge in popularity, the question now for the likes of Zoom and Microsoft Teams is how to keep their offerings relevant in what looks to soon become a fully hybrid working life, split between the office and home.
- These are the best online collaboration software picks around
- Check out our list of the best business webcams available
- We've built a list of the best headsets for conference calls
Surface Headphones 2+ for Business
Microsoft this week unveiled a number of new additions to its computing line-up, chief of which was a new, more powerful Surface Laptop 4.
But alongside the new laptop were a range of upgraded accessories, including headsets, and the new Surface Headphones 2+ for Business, all of which feature dedicated Microsoft Teams buttons.
Microsoft has already launched monitors and headphones with dedicated Teams buttons, and these new additions look to cement the feeling that the video calling platform is set to remain a key part of the company's work for the foreseeable future.
Costing $299.99 and available in black only, the Surface Headphones 2+ for Business appear to be very similar to the original Surface Headphones 2, launched in May 2020, with the same features and battery life, meaning this is more of a refresh than an entirely new release.
But the company says that the Surface Headphones 2+ for Business "empower your team with work headphones that keep them connected and productive", offering "immersive, high-quality Microsoft Teams calls".
It adds that the headphones are "certified for Microsoft Teams", although it's not entirely sure what this means exactly.
The tech overview page for the Surface Headphones 2+ doesn't give much extra detail, except noting that the headphones "meet audio/video specification standards while in use with Teams software to ensure a high-quality call experience", and that Microsoft Teams calls were used in internal battery and sound quality tests. There's also a new dongle that will display a light to let you know when you're on mute, which should hopefully remove any chance of embarassing meeting faux pas going forward.
However the Microsoft Teams button will no doubt be a major advantage for heavy users, with the ability to join calls or bring Teams to the forefront at the touch of a button, as well as use integrated call controls, set to appeal to many.
Elsewhere, Microsoft also unveiled two new business-focused headsets, with the new Modern Wireless Headset and Modern USB Headset looking to appeal to those who want to up their WFH kit with a more traditional feel. Both include dedicated Microsoft Teams controls, and as the names suggest, connect either via Bluetooth or USB-A.
It's clear that videoconferencing and hybrid working are here to stay, and Microsoft is the first major manufacturer to fully throw its weight behind this vision - now it's up to its competitors to follow suit. Could we see a Zoom headset coming soon? Only time will tell....
- We've rounded up everything you need to work from home