02 November 2020 16:34

The Project and Roadmap apps offer tools for managing, tracking, and collaborating on group projects within Microsoft Teams.

Microsoft Teams users will soon be able to hold interactive meetings with up to 1,000 participants. It will allow users to add up to 1,000 participants in a meeting, allowing greater online collaboration across enterprises as numerous countries, including the UK, head for another lockdown. Users will also be able to hold Teams meetings for 1,000 participants while also enabling up to 20,000 participants in a view-only meeting experience. According to Microsoft's 365 Roadmap, the feature is currently "In Development" and will be ready by the end of the year. Users will be able to access the feature using the Advanced Communications add-on which was launched on 1 August 2020.

The license costs $12 (£9.28) per user a month and is available as a free trial for 60 days. With a 20,000-participant capacity, the plan made it possible for large enterprises to host meetings for the entirety of their staff, allowing Microsoft to take advantage of the heightened demand for video conferencing. Microsoft Teams general manager Nicole Herskowitz said that the tech giant put emphasis on users' meeting experience when developing the capability, "making sure that even as the meeting scales it is still easy to manage and listen to the speakers" "Therefore, we limited the size of interactive meetings to 1,000 participants, with a seamless shift to a 'view only' mode after the limit is met," she added. On 28 October, Microsoft announced that the platform's number of daily active users surpassed 115 million, a staggering increase of 95 million since the year prior. Commenting on the announcement, corporate VP for Microsoft 365 Jared Spataro said that the growth "reflects the continued demand for Teams as the lifeline for remote and hybrid work and learning during the pandemic, helping people and organizations in every industry stay agile and resilient in this new era".

Users of the Microsoft Teams collaboration platform can now use a tab to access the revamped Project app for the web that Microsoft released last year. The Project planning app for the web is built on the Microsoft Power Platform for making tools to automate workflows via desktop and mobile for project teams. Project for the web reached general availability last year, offering improved ways for new members to be added to teams and for users to switch between grids, boards and/or timeline (Gantt) charts to track progress. There were also Project on the web integrations with Microsoft Teams, Power BI for creating dashboards, the Power Platform low-code/no-code tools, and Office. The Project and its companion Roadmap app in Teams allow users to create new projects or roadmaps within Teams.

The apps can be added as tabs from the '+' icon at the top of a channel. "Connecting directly to Project from within Teams has been one of the major requests from Project users, and these apps will make it easy to manage, track, and collaborate on all aspects of a team's project in one place," says Microsoft. Teams users will gain access to features from Project for the web, including the automated scheduling to set effort, duration, and resources from within Teams. Microsoft has published a guide for using Project and Roadmap as apps within Teams. The Project apps are the latest in a growing list of apps coming to Teams to help workers organize data in Teams chat, channels and tabs. Salesforce last week announced its app for Teams to bring CRM and customer data to Teams channels and chats. Microsoft launched the Tasks in Teams before that, which brings together Microsoft's Planner and To-Do apps within Teams. Roadmap on Teams is for groups running multiple concurrent projects and provides a visual way to connect their projects and show their current status. There are two separate levels of access and usability for Project and Roadmap in Teams. All Office 365 users can view Projects and Roadmaps shared within Teams but not modify them. To create and edit Projects and Roadmaps, users need an appropriate Project for the Web license. Microsoft is also working on notifications in Teams to help users see important Project and Roadmap updates in their team's activity feed. Other new features Microsoft has delivered this month include the addition of speaker attribution to live captions. Finally, meeting organizers and presenters can prevent attendees from unmuting during – a handy feature for those heading up classrooms or press conferences. Microsoft Teams has received another set of features, most notably the new Project and Roadmap apps. The Project and Roadmap apps offer tools for managing, tracking, and collaborating on group projects within Microsoft Teams. Both have been integrated into Teams to help users keep work and work-related conversations in the same place, which Microsoft said had been one of the most common requests from users. The Project app lets Team users create new projects or roadmaps, or open existing ones, regardless of their role. It offers the same features and capabilities as Microsoft's Project for web service, allowing users to schedule and assign resources to projects within Teams. For groups juggling multiple projects simultaneously who need visibility across all ongoing work, Roadmap allows Teams users to connect projects together so they can be tracked and viewed across an organization. Users can create a consolidated timeline view of projects from Microsoft Project and Azure Boards and plan larger initiatives - complete with key dates and milestones - so that all work is visible. Announcing the new features, Microsoft said: "Today, each one of us has become a project manager. To stay on top of the ever-shifting requirements of our jobs, we need tools that are simple yet robust enough to support any requirement, flexible enough to support any project type, and, most importantly, easy enough to collaborate with anyone no matter where they are or what device they are using." All Office 365 users will be able to view Projects and Roadmaps shared within Teams in a read-only mode, Microsoft said. Users with appropriate Project for the Web licenses to create and edit Projects and Roadmaps will be able to do the same from within Teams. October brought several updates to the platform, including live captions with speaker attribution; the ability to pin specific posts and video feeds in a meeting; a read-only mode for Microsoft Whiteboard; and the ability to store recordings of calls or meetings in OneDrive for Business, or SharePoint. Elsewhere, an updated Microsoft Teams roadmap has revealed that the platform will be bumping the maximum number of participants who can join a meeting from 300 to 1000 starting from this month (November). A Microsoft Teams engineer also revealed in a post on the platform's User Feedback Forum that desktop users will soon be able to quote and directly reply to a specific message within Teams, much as the mobile version currently allows for. The engineer didn't give any indication of when the functionality would become available, but said Microsoft was tracking it as a "top request" within the public forum.