Microsoft Ignite 2021: Tech giant Microsoft held its Ignite 2021 event on Tuesday and the event focused on the future of work in a hybrid environment. The Redmond-based company showcased the new features it has added across the spectrum of solutions it offers to further a world with digital flexibility. The biggest among them is Mesh for Microsoft Teams. But along with that, not only is Teams getting some more feature updates, even Microsoft 365 and Microsoft Office are getting new features. TheSpuzz Online brings you a roundup of everything announced at Ignite 2021.
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Mesh for Microsoft Teams is probably the biggest update in terms of the interactiveness (as well as the element of fun) that it provides. In a blog post, Redmond has said, “The feature combines the mixed-reality capabilities of Microsoft Mesh, which allows people in different physical locations to join collaborative and shared holographic experiences, with the productivity tools of Microsoft Teams, where people can join virtual meetings, send chats, collaborate on shared documents and more.”
Let us explain a bit more. It can best be described as the workplace version of simulated interactive games. It is a way of making the best of virtual space and simulating physical meetings, with organisations also having the option of recreating the physical office environment in a virtual space, giving it the same look, where avatars of employees meet for say work-related discussions.
“Mesh for Microsoft Teams introduces a new generation of two-dimensional (2D) and three-dimensional (3D) meetings. How you project yourself in an immersive space really matters. Personalized avatars give you control to customize your avatar and use AI to imitate movements and gestures that enable you to bring your physical presence into the conversation, even when your camera is off. Organizations will also be able to create immersive spaces that resemble physical spaces such as conference rooms, design centers, and networking lounges to enhance camaraderie, spark creativity, and foster serendipitous water-cooler connections,” the company said.
Apart from this, Teams is now also going to allow users to assign roles to other people in attendance, and they would also be able to see the order in which hands were raised in the meeting so that all the users can be heard. Microsoft, in fact, has also tied up with hardware partners for Teams. “Upon certification, the Yealink desk Vision AIO24 with its new 24-inch display can be used as a standalone device for Teams collaboration or connected to a PC as a second screen,” it said.
Capabilities are also being enhanced for holding virtual events via Teams with the integration of events and hospitality management platform Cvent with the video conferencing solution. “A host of new webinars and broadcasting capabilities will make it easy to set up and deliver professional, engaging experiences to internal and external audiences. The virtual green room will enable organizers and presenters to socialize, monitor chat, conduct Q&As, manage attendee settings, and share content before the event starts. Organizers and presenters will be able to manage what attendees see to ensure that attendees will only see shared content and participants that are brought on screen. Both of these capabilities will be available in preview in early 2022,” Redmond said in the blog post.
But that is not all. The next big breakthrough (Microsoft’s words, not mine) has been brought in Microsoft 365 – the Microsoft Loop! “Microsoft Loop is a new app that combines a powerful and flexible canvas with portable components that move freely and stay in sync across applications—enabling teams to think, plan, and create together. Microsoft Loop has three elements: Loop components, Loop pages, and Loop workspaces,” the company said.
Loop components are small productivity units which allow users to collaborate as well as complete work in the chat, meeting, documents or emails themselves. Users can either build Loop components or make use of the ones that Microsoft is offering – like Voting Table for easy brainstorming and decision making and Status Tracker to track how a task is progressing.
“Loop pages are flexible canvases where you can organize your components and pull in helpful elements like links, files, or data in ways that suit your specific project needs,” Microsoft said.
“Loop workspaces are shared spaces that allow you and your team to see and group everything important to your project. And workspaces make it easy for you to catch up on what everyone is working on, react to others’ ideas, and track progress toward shared goals,” it added.
The Loop components would be rolled out in Teams, Outlook and OneNote in preview in the coming months, the company said.
It has also announced Clipchamp – its new tool to make better videos for users of all skill levels. Microsoft is now also bringing recording studio to Powerpoint to make presentations better.
Microsoft is also bringing AI capabilities to users in its solutions. “The promise of AI has always been about augmenting human capability in ways that feel like magic. That’s becoming reality with Context IQ. Context IQ turns insights into action, harnessing the power of Microsoft Graph to glean insights about your work throughout the day, then predicting, seeking, and suggesting information you need, right when you need it—at the point of action. For example, Context IQ takes Microsoft Editor, to the next level, helping with things like suggesting a relevant file or document, finding available calendar times with collaborators, suggesting colleagues to tag in emails, or suggesting related Loop components for Microsoft Dynamics 365 Sales opportunity records,” Microsoft said.
However, that is not all. Microsoft announced the Azure OpenAI Service at Ignite 2021, “which allows access to OpenAI’s API through the Azure platform and will initially be available by invite only. The new Azure Cognitive Service will give customers access to OpenAI’s powerful GPT-3 models, along with security, reliability, compliance, data privacy and other enterprise-grade capabilities that are built into Microsoft Azure”.