Microsoft starts rolling out its Webinars feature in Teams

Microsoft is making Webinars in Teams generally available and is bringing new presentation options to Teams via Presenter Mode.

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Credit: Microsoft

Microsoft is kicking of the rollout of its Webinars capability in Teams starting today, May 11. The new webinars feature supports up to 1,000 attendees, with the ability to scale to 10,000 people in view-only broadcast mode. (Microsoft has expanded that view-only broadcast mode to 20,000 people through the end of calendar 2021 to support remote workers.)

Webinars provides custom registration pages and attendee emails; various presentation options; host controls (like the ability to disable attendee chat and video) and post-event report generation. Starting this month, Microsoft is enabling Dynamics 365 Marketing users to export attendee data directly from Teams via the previously announced Teams and Dynamics 365 integration work the company has been doing.

A number of third-party companies already provide webinar software and services -- some of which integrates with Teams. But Microsoft maintains that "customers want to minimize the number of tools they're using for internal and external engagements," said Teams' General Manager Nicole Herskowitz.

While Teams is mostly used for internal-facing meetings, Webinars will enable it to also support external-facing meetings. Microsoft is making Webinars available for no additional charge to Microsoft 365 E3 and E5; Microsoft 365 A3/A5; and Microsoft
365 Government G3/G5 plans. Microsoft 365 Business Standard and Microsoft 365 Business Premium plans will include all the features above for up to 300 attendees.  (There is no separate "Teams Pro" subscription required, in spite of Microsoft's previous messaging to the contrary.)

Microsoft provides a number of other options for meetings and events, including its Live Events Assistance Program and consulting services for Virtual Events. It also is in the midst of revamping its Microsoft Stream video service. Stream is more geared toward high-production big events at the moment. But Microsoft's goal for Stream is to become the underlying service for video creation, sharing and viewing for all of its Microsoft 365 services. But Webinars does not use Stream at this time.

Microsoft also announced today that Presenter mode in Teams will begin rolling out later this month. PowerPoint Live in Teams, which Microsoft introduced in March, lets Teams presenters view upcoming slides, notes, meeting chat and the audience in a single view while presenting. With Presenter mode, users can customize how their video feed and content appear to the audience with Standout mode (video feed as a silhouette in front of shared content; Reporter mode (content appears above the speaker's shoulder); and Side-by-Side mode (video feed appears alongside content). Standout will be available later this month and the other two modes shortly thereafter, Microsoft officials said.