Microsoft has launched a series of new features for collaboration platform Teams designed to make webinar and virtual event hosting simpler than ever.
In a blog post, the company highlights two new Microsoft Teams features in particular, both of which are available immediately: Webinars and PowerPoint Live.
The former allows Teams users to host “interactive webinars” for up to 1,000 participants. The setup process is reportedly much like preparing a regular Teams meeting, with the addition of a custom registration page and tighter permissioning.
- Check out our list of the best business webcams out there
- Take a look at our list of the best productivity software around
- We've built a list of the best headsets for conference calls right now
If attendees do not require video and chat facilities, Teams will let users host view-only broadcasts for up to 20,000 people. This limit will be cut in half at the end of the year, though, at which point Microsoft expects most businesses will have transitioned away from a fully remote model.
The new PowerPoint Live feature, meanwhile, allows users to launch presentations from within Teams itself, eliminating the need for screen sharing. It also lets presenters view upcoming slides, notes, meeting chat and the video feeds of attendees in a single view, which should alleviate some of the uncanniness that comes with virtual presentations.
Audience members can also browse presentation content at their own pace, which Microsoft says will help address accessibility issues. The company has also promised an automatic slide translation feature, said to be “coming soon”.
Microsoft Teams update
Since the start of the pandemic, Microsoft has worked doggedly to make Teams a central hub for working, building as wide a range of functionality into the platform as possible to prevent workers from having to juggle multiple different tools to get a job done.
Now, the company says, it’s extending the same principle to virtual events and webinars, which have become almost as simple to orchestrate as a traditional video call.
“Over the last year, we have found new ways to create engaging virtual experiences at work. We’ve transformed spaces in our homes to offices, developed new skillsets for remote collaboration, and in some cases, adopted new technology to get work done,” wrote Nicole Herskowitz, Teams GM at Microsoft.
“I often hear from our customers about the burden of using different tools to accomplish similar tasks at work. This is one of the reasons I’m excited to announce new innovations in Microsoft Teams that give you more ways to use the tool you rely on every day.”
The cherry on top of the cake is that companies aren’t required to purchase new licenses to access the new functionalities. “There are no hidden costs or charges for overage fees with plans that include these capabilities - period,” Microsoft explained.