Microsoft Touts Progress Of Teams Chat App

Microsoft announces several new AI features including Cortana integration for Teams

Microsoft's Slack competitor is getting Cortana integration and message translation

Microsoft announced its group collaboration platform Teams nearly a year and a half ago, but it was made generally available at this time last year. 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.

Teams just turned one, and for its anniversary, Microsoft has unveiled new professional features for it that go well beyond what rivals like Slack offer.

One of the new features is Cortana integration.

"Over the past year, Teams has evolved to become the ultimate hub for teamwork", said Redmond.

But perhaps of the more interesting new additions will the addition of inline message translation. This functionality will extend to IP phones and conference room devices.

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Cortana voice interactions for Teams-enabled devices-Will enable you to easily make a call, join a meeting, or add other people to a meeting in Teams using spoken, natural language. Alongside Cortana and translation, Microsoft is also adding cloud recording for meetings with automatic transcription and timecoding, background blur on video, mobile sharing for meetings, and the ability to find and add Skype Room Systems into any meetings.

Video call participants will be able to blur the background on their calls, so the person you're talking to won't be able to see what's behind you. A future upgrade will include facial recognition so that comments can be assigned to specific individuals.

Additionally, Microsoft is now working with more OEMs (like Lenovo and HP) and partners (like Logitech, Crestron, and Polycom) to make sure Teams is enabled on more calling and meeting room devices.

The new calling capabilities, which include consultative transfer (for getting an OK before transferring a call to somebody), call delegation, and federation, will be available in the second quarter, Wright said. Also coming is a Direct Routing feature which will allow users to use existing telephony infrastructures with Teams. Acknowledging how "wonky" it is that Teams hasn't been able to run on Surface Hub thus far, Microsoft has now added native support, she said.

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