Microsoft has announced that a raft of new Microsoft Teams features which it flagged earlier this month will be reaching end users in the next few days, while the much anticipated ability to see 49 people on screen at once is coming in the next few weeks.
The new Teams experience is rolling out to "most users" in coming days, but Microsoft also says the new experience is rolling out gradually. For now, Teams users have the option to turn on the new experience but eventually it will become the default.
Once enabled, Teams users will notice that calls and meetings pop out into their own window apart from the main Teams window.
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The feature that lots of people have been waiting for is support for 49 people on screen to host remote classrooms. This brings Teams up to par with Zoom. The feature, called Large Gallery, can be enabled from the meetings control bar, which is now on the top of the meeting screen. The Large Gallery is available for video calls with 10 or more participants.
The Large Gallery will be welcomed especially by teachers who've complained on Microsoft's user forum that nine people on screen simultaneously was too few to properly handle classrooms, which often have more than nine students.
Microsoft is also rolling out "Together Mode", a view that makes it look like everyone's in the same shared space rather than the 49-person grid view.
Microsoft officials believe Together Mode will help alleviate virtual-meeting fatigue and make meetings feel more real. Initially, there's an auditorium view, but Microsoft is planning to add different views.
Unfortunately, the Large Gallery and Together Mode are being rolled out gradually over the next few weeks, rather than days as is the case with the new break-out windows for chats and video.
Thanks to separate windows, Meeting notes are now taken on the meeting's Meeting notes tab in the main Teams window.
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Microsoft Teams is also gaining Focus mode to let users focus on content without the distraction of video feeds.
The new meeting and calling experience is available for the Teams desktop client on Windows and Mac, but it's not available for Teams on the web.
Microsoft notes that there are other features to come, like message extension, and the InVision Freehand digital whiteboard. It also said the ability for live events to open in their own window is 'coming soon'.