Microsoft has announced its popular collaboration platform, Teams, will be woven throughout the upcoming Windows update.
In a blog post introducing Windows 11, Microsoft acknowledges they are keen to cater to a Teams users base that has grown steadily and strongly throughout the course of the coronavirus pandemic. As businesses look increasingly towards hybrid and co-located models of working, Microsoft is making it quicker and easier to create and join Teams meetings, as well as integrating the app with other on- and off-line workstreams.
Windows 11 users will find the Teams app featured prominently throughout the system. A new Start menu integrates the app for almost immediate launch, and the redesigned taskbar features the Teams Chat function, with mute and unmute capabilities.
According to Microsoft, the rise of remote and co-located workforces has driven the increased focus on connection and collaboration in Windows 11. COVID-19 had pushed the number of Microsoft Teams’ daily active users to beyond 145 million by April, and that number looks set to remain high as businesses adapt to a hybrid future.
Writing ahead of the Windows 11 launch, due towards the end of the year, Microsoft said: ‘Even as we start to return to more in-person interaction, we want to continue to make it easy for people to stay close with each other no matter where they are. And we don’t want the device or platform you’re on to be a barrier.’
With Chat integrated to the taskbar, users will be able to instantly connect with others through text, chat, voice or video, across devices and across platforms. Android, iOS and other Windows users are all catered for, and text functions are available for connecting with even those who haven’t downloaded Teams.
‘You can still connect with them via two-way SMS,’ Microsoft says.
The Windows 11 preview comes following an announcement in April about a new ‘front row’ layout to Teams, due to hit the app later this year. The new layout is again designed with hybrid working in mind and promises to streamline the environment for businesses that have some people working remotely and others based in the office.
The Windows 11 update isn’t all about business though: there are improvements to the system for gamers, new Widgets enhanced with AI for personalised feeds, an all-new Microsoft Store for apps and entertainment, and an altogether more open ecosystem, allowing for greater innovation by developers and creators.