What’s New in Microsoft Teams at the Start of 2021?

The latest updates to Microsoft Teams

What’s New in Microsoft Teams at the Start of 2021?

Microsoft has welcomed us all into the new year of 2021 in style, with a host of new features designed to give you more out of your work and collaboration experience. The latest selection of enhancements covers everything from meeting notifications to live event real-time language translation, and new security enhancements too.

If you’re already checked out the new Microsoft Teams Breakout Rooms experience for virtual meetings and you’re keen to check out more 2021 features, here’s what you can expect.

Microsoft Teams Meeting and Calling

Microsoft Teams now has new end-of-meeting notifications that remind you when there are five minutes left on your scheduled meeting time. This notification appears for 10 seconds and disappears, helping you stay on track and wrap up fast without causing the meeting to end automatically.

There’s also a new pre-join experience for Teams Meetings that enables easier video, audio, and device configuration before a conversation. You can easily adjust all of your settings in the pre-join environment. Additionally, Microsoft is also supporting new languages for real-time event translation. You can translate Japanese, Korean, Spanish, French Canadian, Spanish Mexican and a host of other languages too. There’s up to 50 translation languages available.

Up to June 30th, 2021, Microsoft will also continue to support customers with live event limit increases. Events can host up to 20,000 attendees, and companies can run up to 50 events simultaneously on one tenant. There’s also an event duration limit of up to 16 hours per broadcast. Events for up to 100,000 attendees are available through the live events program.

Microsoft has introduced multiple number dialling with a split button in the chat header for video and audio. This will display various number options for a single contact, making it easier to initiate a call. There’s also the arrival of 1:1 call live captions to look forward to.

Multiple Number Dialling

Multiple Number Dialling

These captions, available to enable or disable with admin access, make it easier to keep track of what people are saying in calls.

Microsoft Teams Devices

There are new features rolling out for Microsoft Teams Rooms for Windows devices this year too. The latest app version (now available in the Admin centre) comes with:

  • Cortana voice assistant (in preview): Available to create, join, and end meetings without touching the Teams app.
  • Control spotlight: Control the meeting Spotlight feature with the Teams Rooms console
  • Share HDMI audio: Users connecting to Rooms via HDMI can share PC audio in the meeting
  • Enhanced Teams phones: Phones for Microsoft Teams now have new video layout options, including 3×3 gallery mode, large gallery view (up to 49 participants) and Together mode
  • Proximity join: Conference phones equipped with Microsoft Teams will now support proximity-based meeting join using the BLE beacon transmitted by the phone
  • UC workstation factors with Audiocodes and Yealink: Yealink recently introduced the WH67 and WH66 unified communications workstations with a wireless phone charger, USB hub, speakerphone, and multi-touch screen, as well as a dedicated Teams button. Yealink’s MP58 deskphone also comes with collaboration features like a 7-inch touchscreen and support for Bluetooth wireless handsets. The Audiocodes C470 Teams desk phone is another new addition, with a full touch interface, Wi-Fi, and Bluetooth support

Microsoft Teams Chat and Collaboration

One of the most recent updates to the Microsoft Teams collaboration and chat features is the arrival of improved search relevance. The new relevance model allows Teams to learn the important elements of messages that matter to you based on passive and active signals, including who you interact with most.

The Teams iOS mobile app allows access to files when you’re offline or in bad network conditions now. Just select the files you need to keep handy, and Teams will maintain a downloaded version for you. Microsoft also announced improvements to video playbacks, with a sec25% reduction in the time it takes for embedded videos to load, and a 90% reduction in the time it takes to start playing.

Yammer communities and conversations are also getting an update in Teams. You can search for conversations in the Communities app and add a tab with Yammer styling in your channels. Additionally, Microsoft updated the “add a team to site” functionality in SharePoint. The enhanced wizard allows people to use SharePoint team site pages with dynamic web parts as dashboards for content, including links, news, pages, and group activity.

Team members can also access the SharePoint tab to pin any news, page, list, or document library separately within their Teams channel. Clicking the “+” option will allow users to start pinning resources instantly. Plus, the SharePoint migration manager now allows users to select OneDrive or Teams Channel usernames when setting destinations for content migration.

Microsoft Teams Apps, Security and Management

The integration between Microsoft Teams and Power Apps helps organisations to build apps suitable for any business channel. The Power Apps Teams App will allow users to develop low-code custom tools to use in Teams, and deploy them across their entire tenant, backed with Dataverse. When celebrating the new app development features, Microsoft drew attention to the Yasoon Smart Connect Jira app, that offers cross-tool conversational support for Teams users.


From a management perspective, businesses will now have the option to restrict Teams sign-in for managed Mac and Windows devices. This stops employees to sign into another tenant using the credentials of the other tenant from the device they use for work. There’s also the option to manage Teams Display as one of the device categories within the Teams admin centre

From a security and compliance perspective, admins can set Teams so that only invited users can join a meeting with a new lobby setting. The “People I invite” option allows certain people to bypass the lobby when they’re added to a meeting via an invitation.

A new “customer key” support feature for Microsoft Teams is also now available for preview, adding extra encryption to Teams experiences.

Teams for Education, Healthcare and Firstline Workers

In the vertical-focused segments of Microsoft Teams, there are new features rolling out for Firstline Workers, Education and Healthcare. Students and teachers can now receive a new notification when a class Notebook page is distributed, allowing any educator using distribution in the OneNote client to ensure all students are informed in Teams after distributing a page.

There’s also an Education policy wizard coming soon for Teams users, which allows admins to easily add global policy defaults for students, and set custom policy sets to specific staff and educators.

In Healthcare, Teams is introducing a new EHR connector to support virtual visits. Patients can schedule and join meetings from within their EHR patient portal. Providers can also schedule and launch visits within the provider portal. Epic integration is currently supported with the connector, and new EHR systems will arrive soon.

For Firstline Workers, there are new customisable ‘Praise Badges’ that help to recognise comradery and success in the workplace. Praise supports better job satisfaction and workplace culture.

Microsoft Teams Praise badges

Microsoft Teams Praise Badges

Microsoft Teams Government Features

Finally, Microsoft is introducing a slew of new features for Microsoft Teams Government edition, starting with virtual breakout rooms that admins can create through channel or Teams meetings. The Microsoft Teams Government users on the app today will also have access to the pre-join experience for Teams meetings outlined above, which helps with configuring devices prior to a conversation.

PowerPoint file sharing is now enabled within Teams without the need to use Window or Desktop sharing, with participants free to view the presentation at the speed that suits them. What’s more, multiple number dialling is available for video and audio calls as of December 2020.

Inline message translation is now in DoD, helping team members to communicate more seamlessly with each other regardless of their chosen language. Additionally, government users can set their presence status duration on Teams too. You can decide how long you want to be “Away” or “Available” on Teams to manage interactions. Teams also has a new “offline” status that Government users can access as of December.

The Microsoft Linux client is available now in GCC-High, and Microsoft also revealed the arrival of data loss prevention technology. The DLP capabilities in the Microsoft 365 government ecosystem now extends to cover all of your Microsoft Teams channel and chat messages, including private conversations. Companies already using DLP can define and build policies preventing users from sharing private information through chat sessions and Microsoft Teams channels.

Lastly, Microsoft revealed GCC support for device management within the Teams Admin centre cloud environment. As an administrator, you will be able to control the complete lifecycle of your Teams devices, which include IP phones, collaboration systems, Teams Meeting Room devices, and displays.



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