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Microsoft unveiled new Teams features at its Build virtual conference this week designed to enhance employee collaboration and productivity, with deeper app integrations for video meetings and new co-editing features among the changes.

Together, the moves are aimed at expanding Teams as a platform for work, said Angela Ashenden, a principal analyst at CCS Insight, allowing users to bring a broader set of apps and processes into the Teams environment.

Among the updates is “shared stage integration,” which brings third-party tools, such as whiteboard or design apps, into the central Teams meeting screen — what Microsoft refers to as the “main stage.”

The shared stage integration, currently in private preview, follows the launch last November of Teams Apps for Meetings, which allowed developers to connect 20 third-party apps into the Teams meeting interface, though these were accessible via the side panel only.

The integration of third-party apps into Teams follows similar moves by Microsoft’s rival Zoom, which announced integrations for its own video meeting platform at the Zoomtopia conference last year. “Although it wasn’t first to market in announcing meeting apps for Teams … Microsoft has doubled down on its investment in this area and has been able to capitalize on its experience to move comfortably ahead of the market,” said Ashenden.

Other developer-focused updates include the ability to create custom scenes for Teams’ Together mode (expected to be available this summer), “media APIs” to build services around audio and video streams, and “meeting event APIs” to automate some workflows via events such as a meeting’s start and end. Microsoft promised that additional event APIs will be available later this year.

Copyright © 2021 IDG Communications, Inc.



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