team measurement app

12 features that are welcome in Microsoft Teams in 2021.


Today, Microsoft Teams has more than 115 million daily active users. That’s about 50% of Office 365 DAU. By July, when Ignite 2020 was virtually taking place, it was already north of 75. But while these figures reinforce and make credence to the story that Teams is the fastest growing app in Microsoft history, it doesn’t quite reflect how hard everyone has worked behind the scenes and how much innovation there has been, as Teams has become a channel for business continuity in unprecedented times. Think of all the features added in 2020: large gallery, together mode, hard mute, spotlight, skype consumer interop, breakout rooms, pop-out chat, pop-out meetings, pop-out calls and apps, dataverse, app studio improvements, tasks for Teams, the Yammer community app, the Lists app, the introduction of Teams displays, customers, apps key for meetings… it was a wild ride for the pros, let alone for the average daily user

Here are 12 things I’d like to see in 2021. To note that I have intentionally omitted important things on the roadmap that we know will be 100% in 2021, including collaborative calling, the approval app and the insights app/headspace all of which will be fantastic additions. All links to Uservoices are present, so don’t hesitate to vote for them! – and if you have something you want to see in Teams that haven’t been asked for, go ahead and apply it!

Number 1: Work with multiple tenants without switching – and with multiple profiles

teams picture

Uservoice (Lessons Switching): here
Uservoice (multiple profiles): here

Both questions relate to moving in teams and dealing with organizations outside your own organization. Regularly switching tenants and bypassing the old browser profile are experiences in Teams that cause friction and make Teams feel more awkward and confusing than necessary. If you could access external teams or channels within your own tenant, and switch profiles through the avatar, this would not only be a lot cleaner, it would also be simpler and more intuitive, making users more productive. Although Uservoice confirms that multiple profiles are being worked on – so desktop and web come in line with mobile, there is still nothing to switch. These ads would be welcomed as much as popular questions, such as private channels and brainstorming rooms

Number 2: Replace wiki and meeting notes with OneNote

Uservoice: here

How many of you delete the wiki as the first action when you create a team? Yes, me too. This is what happens when you don’t have the ability to run a full text search, implement full formatting outside the body, an inability to import and export, an inability to restore deleted pages, no templates, and can’t print. The list is endless – but I’m sure you know the limitations well. Because their wiki didn’t grow up much in 2020, let’s just throw it away with notes from meetings and use the great app that Microsoft already has for all the notes in Teams and indeed throughout Microsoft 365. Onenote. Much loved. Lists are for Lists like Notes for OneNote

Number 3: Set the download location

downloading in teams

Uservoice: here

Files downloaded from Teams downloads to the download folder on the local computer. This includes the Meeting Participant report that was introduced last year. Of course, if I had a choice personally, I’d like to put it in a folder in OneDrive for Business. It would cover me in case of hardware failures, but also in the event that the device would ever be stolen. For example, administrators can set this up on a network share via GPO. Now, per user, Microsoft has recognized this and has it on the agenda, but it is currently behind. Scroll down quickly through the comments on the uservoice and you’ll see that a few users – no doubt admins – are getting a little restless. Last year it could have been a nice victory, but of course there were higher priorities ala meetings. It would be good to finally close it in 2021

Number 4: Delete the Messages tab and set a landing tab

teams landing tabs.png

Uservoice (delete posts): here
Uservoice (Landing Tab): here

The more you use Teams, the more you realize that each team and channel doesn’t need a corresponding conversation. A channel can only be about lists, or it can only be about files. I don’t want to have to apply channel moderation to every channel in that particular team, and on the other hand, I want every tab in each channel to make sense. We now go into that area of putting together the team experience to the actual team. Of course, it doesn’t necessarily mean that I suddenly run out and let users land on my SharePoint page in my intranet channel, or limit the discussion to posts in the general channel as soon as the functionality is available: but the option to do so will suit the users, remove filler, and optimize the team experience. The deletion of messages is reviewed and the landing tab is on the backlog. Let’s all get on board and vote for these votes to get them higher on the agenda

Number 5: Allow meeting rail relocation in Team meetings

meeting rail in teams.png

Uservoice: here

Have you ever noticed that when cams are turned on in a Teams meeting, certain people look down all the time? This is usually because they have built-in cameras or have their external camera on top of the device and look down at a center screen of a presentation or at other people who have their camera on in the meeting rail that is at the bottom of the stage. Ah but Zoom has it in the top right? Incoming custom layouts that we’ll see in the new year can cover and fix this – but if not, the option to move the meeting rail would be a nice addition to help people focus and look at each other more squarely in the camera. Let’s look at some more action in 2021 – after all, we’re not all shoegazers

Number 6: The ability to hide the presence externally per user

hide presence externally user is teams.png

Uservoice: here

I recently wrote a blog about the fact that while most people aren’t aware of it, you can hide the presence externally, because users outside your organization can’t see your status. At this time, however, you can only hide it from the entire organization, not per user, and you don’t have the option to set exceptions (i.e. people on your contacts list or by domain). Now I’m sure some people are totally satisfied with others outside their organization using Teams or Skype for Business, knowing when they’re available. In my experience, however, some are not – and for some they really see it as a serious invasion of both their privacy and their security. Last year I asked for custom statuses in attendance and maybe that’s somewhere on the list, but for me personally the ability to limit the sharing of presence externally per user and with exceptions to number 1 followed by the ability to write – do not just read the presence, via the presence API. If Microsoft were to do both, plus a custom presence status and the ability to disable presence for the entire organization, making it an optional feature, that would likely satisfy pretty much everyone I know who currently has presence needs

Number 7: Correction of channel securing

Correction of channel post pinning

Uservoice: here

Like many, I was looking forward to being able to secure a message in a channel. I thought I could pin it down and it would appear at the top of the channel conversation, fully visible to anyone who went to the channel. It would be there, bold, cheeky and give the team what I needed to know. Except that this was not the case. When you pin a message, the pinned message is only visible in the channel’s information window that you can’t see unless you open the information window, a small icon in the upper-right corner of the screen. This is not automatically understood – just read the comments on the uservoice. To be honest, maybe we all didn’t have the right expectations about this. However, if you consider pinning files or lists in Microsoft 365, pinning at the top of the screen means full view for easy access, so you can probably see what people were expecting prior to release. Hopefully this is a quick fix – and after that, securing files or video would be a great next step, not just to limit them to the Files tab

Number 8: Transfer music in Teams conversations

transfer call in teams.jpg

Uservoice: here

It’s a generalization, but a caller generally doesn’t like to stop during a call. Is this a mistake? Am I about to be dropped? Or is someone listening, but he just doesn’t respond? Hold music exists today; that includes the ability to transfer music if you’re using direct routing, since session boundary controllers like Oracle can fill that gap. But if you have call subscriptions, there is no music transfer today. This is one of those things that is harshly pointed out as a fundamental gap in the service. It really isn’t – and calling has made huge progress over the past year. But customers complain to users, who complain to administrators and you know what score it seeps up. As we’ve seen with those small but vital things like busy pressure, secondary ringing, longest inactivity and call merge – those small but essential telephony functions that contribute to the quality of the user experience, should be present

Number 9: Cast meetings to public video platforms

Uservoice: here

NDI is really cool. OBS is really cool. What would be even cooler, however, is the ability to stream and cast a Microsoft Teams meeting to public video platforms like YouTube and Workplace by Facebook, introduce chroma key green screen, prepackaged video, transitions, and keep up with apps like Streamyard that give users really cool production opportunities without having to be technically advanced to run. As much as there is a great opportunity with Stream v2.0 and producing/editing content, so there is an opportunity here to broadcast really slick content and make it widely available. Teams is the perfect vehicle to do that.

Number 10: Countdown / In Meeting Clock

teams women videocalling. Png

Uservoice: here

Time is our most precious possession, and many of us spend a lot of time in meetings. However, in Teams meetings, time management is not explicit or always easy to track and manage. Of course, there’s the new five-minute alert that was recently sent that helps you come to an end, and you may have seen workarounds using the SharePoint Countdown Timer for Web Parts. But with the new expandability of meetings, this really should be the time to think about an app and native tools to actively manage time in meetings. This can be a countdown that appears in the side panel. This can be surfaced in the gallery or embedded in the control bar. This could work with an agenda. One idea I specifically like is next to the username that shows the local time of the meeting participants in their time zone: take into account others when it’s late in the day or very early in the morning. I also like the idea of keeping track of how much time you’ve saved if a meeting ends early or if a meeting ends. That’s the kind of statistic that would fit well in MyAnalytics, right? There’s a lot of room here.

Number 11: Final meeting means ending meeting

Teams_End meeting.png

Uservoice: here

I’ve lifted this user voice. I’ve been through a lot. The meeting ends and later the Teams chat continues and you will have to take my word for it that some days may last. Most people don’t know that you have to leave the corresponding chat conversation to end it. If a participant hasn’t left the conversation or at least muted the conversation, they’ll get pop-up notifications and possible ongoing interruptions in the flow of their work. Chances are you’ve been through this: so when the meeting ends, it’s ideal to close the meeting completely. No one comes in anymore. No more chat. Were done. This gives the organizers of meetings the final ownership until the end of the meeting lifecycle. If you want to keep the chat going, be sure to do so. Sometimes, however, a good thing has to come to an end, as the old saying goes

Number 12: Replying to a specific message on the desktop

reply message in teams

Uservoice: here

The big eye and voice of the audience fall on a functionality and can fix from time to time. After private channels we had custom backgrounds. After custom backgrounds, we had seen all the people in a team meeting. After we saw all the people in a Teams meeting, we had brainstorming rooms. Now, after brainstorming rooms, we have answers to a specific message. In the age of instant messaging – what with WhatsApp and Slack and what else people use, people don’t just want this functionality, they expect it – and the absence of such basic functionality as this, is central to the core of the workload of Teams (chat), there is a real danger that it is being held up and representative of what people think the product is not at all. It’s going to be a figurehead the way you want it. Take the latest colorful comment about the uservoice – ‘Jesus Christ, this is a must-have, essential for asynchronous communication’. The comment makes me laugh out loud, but it’s true – the fact that it’s available on mobile and even appears on the desktop will surprise many, especially those who are used to functionality that comes first on the desktop. To say that you have to use the mobile if you want to use this functionality is cool, but you’ll have to trust me from the conversations in the tech community, it doesn’t always go well. Now you and I both know that this is all ridiculous and it will surely come, and we’ll be mature and patient a little longer, since Microsoft has a lot, even with huge amounts of resources. However, user services that make No1 make No1 for a reason – and while I don’t think it’s half as urgent as others on this list, it’s good to see that this shuts down before the sound turns into the superlative. Rest assured: once this has happened, the audience will no doubt elevate something else from the collective voice in its place.

Honourable mentions

I’ll also be very happy to see the following features in Teams in 2021 and I’ll definitely celebrate on social media when they’re added on the roadmap:

Source: microsoft365pro

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