Microsoft Teams turns two; now has 500,000 organizational users

Microsoft is adding customized backgrounds, secure private channels, additional camera support and live captions to Teams in the coming months.

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Credit: Microsoft

This week, Microsoft's group-chat competitor to Slack, Microsoft Teams, is turning two years old. And as of this week, Microsoft Teams is now used by more than 500,000 organizations worldwide, up from 329,000 in September 2018, according to Microsoft. Of these, 150 organizations have 10,000 or more Teams users, Microsoft officials say.

To commemorate the anniversary this week, Microsoft is announcing a number of new features coming to Teams in the coming year.

Microsoft is adding customized backgrounds as an option to Teams. Microsoft already announced background blur as an option. But "later this year," Teams also will allow users to select custom backgrounds to appear behind them during meetings and calls.

Microsoft Teams Rooms will support "later this year" the option to add an additional camera to capture content like information on regular whiteboards. Using any USB camera, Teams Rooms will allow users to capture, focus, resize and enhance images and text so remote attendees can see better, even if someone is standing directly in front of the whiteboard in the room.

Support for Microsoft Whiteboard (the digital whiteboard, not an analog one) is also coming to Teams Rooms. Microsoft is enabling users to add content from a physical whiteboard to a digital Whiteboard canvas without having to rewrite it from scratch. And remote participants will be able to actively participate via this feature, which is in public preview.

An English preview is "coming soon" of live captions for Teams meetings. And secure private channels, allowing users to customize which members of their teams can see specific conversations and files within a channel also is coming "later this year," officials said today. Information barriers, limiting the disclosure of information -- especially in firstline worker scenarios -- are coming soon. Slack debuted private shared channels in January 2018.

Update: Microsoft officials also said that Virtual Desktop Infrastructure (VDI) is coming in April. Teams will be able to be installed in each individual virtual machine in persistent and dedicated VDI environments, and will accommodate chat and collaboration. "We are also currently collaborating with Citrix to enable calling and meetings features in Teams," Microsoft execs said.

Information on all the newly available and coming features is available on Microsoft's Teams blog.

Microsoft officials have said Teams is the fastest growing business app in the company's history.

Microsoft also announced today that its internal migration of 180,000 employees and vendors from Skype for Business to Microsoft Teamsis complete. ("A small group of additional employees and vendors will migrate oncecertain countries unblock cloud-based communication tools like Teams," officials said.)