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Microsoft Teams

Microsoft Teams Gets New Features, including Full Walkie Talkie Launch

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Microsoft Teams is getting some interesting new features this week and over the next month. Microsoft says the Walkie Talkie feature is reaching all users (via The Verge), while notification muting on calls is coming soon. Furthermore, Teams Consumer and Teams for business are getting a communication integration.

Let’s start with the Walkie Talkie feature in Microsoft Teams. Microsoft says the tool is coming to all users of the Teams app starting today. This has been a long time coming considering the ability was first announced two years ago in January 2020.

It is worth noting the feature has made its way in preview to Samsung devices and Teams Phones in that time. However, with the full launch every Teams user will have access to Walkie Talkie. The tool gives users the ability to communicate with each other within an organization. Specifically, it is a push-to-talk feature for cloud-based voice communication.

Working through Wi-Fi or cellular connection, the Walkie Talkie feature enables frontline workers to connect securely on their smartphone. The idea is to bring one less device.

Mute Notifications on Calls

Elsewhere in the world of Teams, Microsoft has updated its Microsoft 365 message center with news of a small but important new feature. Specifically, users will soon be able to mute notifications during Microsoft Teams calls.

“Users will be able to mute notifications during meetings thereby helping focus during meetings. A user can choose to mute notifications for all meetings or per meeting basis,” Microsoft says.

Microsoft Teams is getting some interesting new features this week and over the next month. Microsoft says the Walkie Talkie feature is reaching all users (via The Verge), while notification muting on calls is coming soon. Furthermore, Teams Consumer and Teams for business are getting a communication integration.  Let’s start with the Walkie Talkie feature in Microsoft Teams. Microsoft says the tool is coming to all users of the Teams app starting today. This has been a long time coming considering the ability was first announced two years ago in January 2020.  It is worth noting the feature has made its way in preview to Samsung devices and Teams Phones in that time. However, with the full launch every Teams user will have access to Walkie Talkie. The tool gives users the ability to communicate with each other within an organization. Specifically, it is a push-to-talk feature for cloud-based voice communication. Working through Wi-Fi or cellular connection, the Walkie Talkie feature enables frontline workers to connect securely on their smartphone. The idea is to bring one less device. Mute Notifications on Calls Elsewhere in the world of Teams, Microsoft has updated its Microsoft 365 message center with news of a small but important new feature. Specifically, users will soon be able to mute notifications during Microsoft Teams calls.  "Users will be able to mute notifications during meetings thereby helping focus during meetings. A user can choose to mute notifications for all meetings or per meeting basis," Microsoft says. The company adds this feature will drop in February.  Communication Link Finally, Microsoft has also announced Teams Consumer and Teams for business users will now be able to communicate with each other. This has been in preview since November but will be becoming widely available in “mid-January.” "With this update Teams users in your organization will be able to start a 1:1 or a group chat with Teams users who are using their personal accounts and vice-versa," Microsoft explains.

The company adds this feature will drop in February.

Communication Link

Finally, Microsoft has also announced Teams Consumer and Teams for business users will now be able to communicate with each other. This has been in preview since November but will be becoming widely available in “mid-January.”

“With this update Teams users in your organization will be able to start a 1:1 or a group chat with Teams users who are using their personal accounts and vice-versa,” Microsoft explains.

Tip of the day: Did you know that Task Manager lets you set CPU affinity to claw back some resources from running apps and give selected apps higher priority. Our tutorial shows how you can use this helpful feature.

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Microsoft Teams End-to-End Encryption for One-to-One Calls Arrives with Compromises

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End-to-end encryption (E2EE) is a security feature that users covet on communication services, especially those focused on enterprise and business. Microsoft Teams so far has not used E2EE for one-to-one calls, but that is now changing. According to Microsoft, it has finished testing end-to-end encryption for one-on-one calls and it is now rolling out to Teams.

However, while that is good news, there is also some bad news. Specifically, for some reason enabling E2EE in Microsoft Teams results in some features not working properly. In other words, you will need to decide whether you prefer privacy or a fully functioning Teams experience.

End-to-end encryption is valuable because it essentially locks data while it is in transit, preventing third parties from accessing it. This is important for one-on-one calls because it means no-one (cybercriminals, advertisers, or even Microsoft) can listen in.

It is worth noting Microsoft Teams already uses E2EE on regular data such as messages, calendar, information, and other features. Only one-to-one calls were left out.

Compromises

Although, Microsoft says the caveats for using the feature are broad. For example, enabling E2EE for calls means that other in-call features do not function, such as call transfers, live captions, group calls, and recording.

In other words, if you want to have the privacy of end-to-end encryption, you must go back to a bare bones call feature set. However, there is a toggle for turning off E2EE. So, if you know you will need any of those features you can compromise your privacy and disable the feature.

It is also worth noting E2EE is disabled by default, so if you want to use it you will have to enable it in the options.

Tip of the day: Whether it’s for a presentation, song, or YouTube video, at some point in your life you’ll need to record audio from your computer. Windows 11 has multiple options to record sound due to its litany of apps. In our tutorial, we show you how to record audio using the built-in Windows 10 Voice Recorder and the freeware audio editor Audacity.

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Google Pixel 911 Bug Is Caused by Microsoft Teams

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Last week, a bug found in Google Pixel was preventing users from being able to call 911. While the issue was raised on Reddit, Google later confirmed it. It seems when users would attempt to call 911, the Pixel device will freeze. Hardly an ideal situation in an emergency. It has now emerged the issue was caused by a glitch in the Microsoft Teams app.

That explains why some users have the issue and others no… not all Pixel users have Microsoft Teams. Google says it is investigating the problem and it is unclear if the glitch is on Google’s end or Microsoft’s.

According to the company, the problem occurs when Microsoft Teams is installed by with no account logged in. Furthermore, the issue is limited to devices running Android 10 or newer.

“We believe the issue is only present on a small number of devices with the Microsoft Teams app installed when the user is not logged in, and we are currently only aware of one user report related to the occurrence of this bug. We determined that the issue was being caused by unintended interaction between the Microsoft Teams app and the underlying Android operating system,” a Google spokesperson says on the Reddit thread.

Workaround

Google says it is working with Microsoft directly to solve the problem and an update for Microsoft Teams will arrive to fix it.

Until then, Google tells users who have Microsoft Teams to uninstall the app and then reinstall it. If the problem persists, uninstall the app for the time being. Users can also try to use the app and stay logged in, considering the bug seems to affect non-logged in apps.

“We advise users to keep an eye out for an update to the Microsoft Teams app, and ensure it is applied as soon as available,” the Google spokesperson said.

Tip of the day: The Windows Clipboard history feature provides the functionality across device, space, and time, letting you copy on one computer and paste the text days later on a different PC. All of it is possible via the Windows 10 clipboard manager, which lets you view, delete, pin, and clear clipboard history at will.

In our tutorial we show you how to enable the feature, clear clipboard history, and enable/disable clipboard sync to meet your preferences. You can also create a clear clipboard shortcut for quick removal of stored content.

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Microsoft Teams Essentials Arrives for Small Businesses

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Many small businesses have been embracing digital solutions over the last 20 months, a consequence of the COVID-19 pandemic. These are not cloud converts, but SMBs working in a hybrid environment. Microsoft Teams has become a fundamental tool for many organizations, but licensing the service is expensive for smaller companies.

For these users, Microsoft Teams Essentials is now available. This is a new pricing tier of the popular workplace collaboration/communication app. According to the company, Essentials is not only the most affordable paid Teams subscription, it is the “most affordable all-in-one solution” currently available on the market.

Microsoft Teams Essentials costs $4 per user each month. In an announcement blog post, Microsoft points out the plan is not just for small businesses:

“The need for affordable communications tools isn’t limited to traditional for-profit small businesses. Nonprofits, religious organizations, schools, and community groups also struggle to connect and collaborate effectively. These organizations and small businesses need to get up and running fast, and Teams Essentials makes it possible with no IT expertise necessary. Teams Essentials enables those with and without a Teams account to participate easily and effectively.”

Features

So, what do users get with Microsoft Teams Essentials? Well, all the features from the free Microsoft Teams are available, as you would expect, for example the Outlook Calendar. Then there are some Essentials-specific features such as 30 hours of extended meetings, hosting of up to 300 people during a group call.

Microsoft says it will add an integration with Google Calendar soon, while there is 10GB of cloud storage available (Teams free has 5GB). Microsoft also bundles in 24/7 customer support on web and phone.

Tip of the day: It’s a good idea to backup your computer on a regular basis, and the most fool-proof way is to manually create a disk image and save it to an external hard drive.

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Microsoft Teams Update to Bring Expanded Emoji Selection

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Microsoft-Teams-Logo-Microsoft

Microsoft Teams users are going to get a small update to the Reactions feature on the platform, according to Microsoft. The company says it is planning to increase the number of emojis that can be used in Reactions.

Following the update, users will be able to access more reactions by selecting from over 800 emojis in Microsoft Teams. Microsoft explains this will provide more ways for users to quickly express themselves on the platform.

While Microsoft is announcing the update this week, it will not become available until mid-January. Even then, it will be a staged roll out for Standard users, while DOD users will not get the expansion until March 2022.Either way, when it launches the update will come to Microsoft Teams on Mac and Windows, Teams mobile for iOS and Android, and Teams on the web.

Mesh for Microsoft Teams

While extra emojis are nice, earlier this week at Ignite 2021, Microsoft had bigger Teams news to announce. Specifically, Mesh for Microsoft Teams.

Mesh for Microsoft Teams provides users in different locations with a way to engage in shared holographic connections. It works across collaborative features, chats, sharing, and virtual meetings. It builds on Microsoft Mesh and Together Mode, which arrived last year on Teams as an AI tool that provides a shared background for meeting participants.

It allows users to create avatars and change a static image, creating what Microsoft describes as immersive spaces. The service is rolling out for all Microsoft 365 customers on Microsoft Teams across mobile and desktop platforms.

Tip of the day: When Windows 10 or Windows 11 has issues, it’s not rare to run into startup problems. Corrupted Windows files, incorrect system configuration, driver failure, or registry tweaks can all cause this issue.

Using Windows startup repair can fix boot issues caused by the most prevalent issues. Though it may seem that all is lost when you run into startup problems, it’s important to try a Windows boot repair so you can at least narrow down the source of the issue. If it doesn’t work, you may have to reinstall the OS or test your hardware.

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Ignite 2021: Mesh for Microsoft Teams Brings More Engagement to Enterprises

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At the Ignite 2021 conference, Microsoft reflected on over a year of a global pandemic and how it has reshaped how people work. Microsoft Teams has been at the heart of the company’s collaboration and communication output as it tries to connect an increasingly mobile workforce. To further enhance remote work further, the company is announcing Mesh for Microsoft Teams.

Microsoft argues while remote work tools like Microsoft Teams and Zoom provide video and chat interactions, meetings can still feel impersonal. Certainly, when all participants in a meeting have their video feed on, research shows other members feel more engaged.

Microsoft wants to encourage users to move away from static images or initial bubbles, and Mesh aims to do this.Mesh for Microsoft Teams provides users in different locations with a way to engage in shared holographic connections. It works across collaborative features, chats, sharing, and virtual meetings. It builds on Microsoft Mesh and Together Mode, which arrived last year on Teams as an AI tool that provides a shared background for meeting participants.

Jeff Teper, corporate VP for Microsoft 365 Teams, SharePoint, and OneDrive, says Mesh will make Teams more immersive:

“We’ve seen that those tools have accomplished both goals of helping a team be more effective and also helping individuals be more engaged.”

Cross-Platform

Mesh for Microsoft Teams will be available on mobile and desktop versions of the service for Microsoft 365 customers. Users can create custom avatars to replace a static image, immersive spaces (think of digital metaverse), where avatars will interact and collaborate.

The feature was announced by Microsoft Technical Fellow Alex Kipman, one of the leaders of HoloLens and Microsoft’s mixed reality output:

“Welcome to Mesh for Teams. As a company whose focus is on productivity, on knowledge workers, it’s something that customers are really asking us for. And it’s coupled with the vision of mixed reality that we’ve been working on the 12 years. It’s all coming together.”

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Feedback for Microsoft Teams Debuts in Preview for Office Users

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Microsoft is now rolling out a feedback portal for the Microsoft Teams collaboration platform on Microsoft Office. According to the company, the new addition to Teams is currently available in preview for testers of the app. The portal is known as Feedback for Microsoft Teams.

First announced earlier this month, the new portal makes it easier for Microsoft Teams users to provide feedback to the company on changes. Microsoft has built the portal on its Dynamics 365 Customer Service platform.

Feedback for Microsoft Teams is a welcome addition as it provides the only way for users to reach out on Teams. That is become Microsoft controversially shut down its Office UserVoice forums earlier this year.

Microsoft said it was transitioning away from the third-party UserVoice service to first-party solutions. The Teams feedback portal is exactly what the company was talking about, providing direct access to users.

How it Works

With Feedback for Microsoft Teams users are able to submit their views on submitted ideas or forward their own ideas:

“The new Feedback portal will allow users to submit their own feedback, browse other publicly submitted ideas, track official Microsoft responses, see our top voted customer ideas, upvote the feedback they agree with, and comment on feedback that matches their own. Top known feedback items remain available in the new portal”.

Users can access Feedback for Microsoft Teams by heading to https://aka.ms/TeamsFeedback. At the moment, you will need to be a Teams Insider to use the tool.

Users can sort by feedback platforms across categories, including new feedback, old feedback, most votes, most/fewest comments, and sharing feedback.

Tip of the day: Do you get flooded by notifications in Windows 10 from apps and want to disable them completely or just the notification sound? Our tutorial shows you how to do this. As an alternative you can also configure Windows 10 Focus Assist (Do Not Disturb Mode) and set quiet hours.

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Microsoft Teams with Shopify for Bing and Edge Integration

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Microsoft has opened a partnership with Shopify that will integrate with Microsoft Bing, Microsoft Edge, and Microsoft Start. Specifically, the collaboration will add product listings from 1.7 million Shopify sellers to Microsoft’s services.

In Microsoft Bing and Microsoft Edge, the new integration can be found in the Shopping tab. Here users can find listed Shopify products quickly. When a merchant adds a product, it will automatically be included on the Shopping tab for Bing and Microsoft Start for free.

Microsoft and Shopify explain how the integration works in the announcement blog:

  • “Using the improved Microsoft Channel app, merchants can easily connect with shoppers across the Microsoft network.
  • Shopify merchants’ products will also automatically show on the Shopping tab on Microsoft Bing and the Microsoft Start Shopping tab for free as product listings.
  • Shopify merchants will also find value in creating new ad campaigns and viewing marketing performance through real-time reports in their Shopify store.”

Bing Travel Update

This is the second major announcement for Microsoft Bing this week, a rare instance of the search engine getting attention. Specifically, Microsoft revealed a new AI tool for Bing Travel.

Specifically, Microsoft Bing is now making travel searches more powerful with a new AI integration. According to the company, web searches for travel will now provide AI-driven results across package vacations, destinations, flights, car rentals, hotels and more.

Alongside this new Shopify integration, Microsoft Bing has become more powerful and usable in the space of just a few days.

Microsoft is also promising more shopping features for its products in the near future:

“This new integration of Shopify in Microsoft’s web experiences is just the beginning of some great new shopping enhancements we will be rolling out to provide thoughtful, convenient, and more secure experiences for shoppers. We are excited to create new and meaningful connections between shops and shoppers for this season and beyond.”

Tip of the day: Headsets are a vital tool for communication and can cause stressful moments when they don´t work as planned. In our tutorial we are showing you how to properly set up a headset on your Windows 10 PC so this will be a thing of the past.

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Microsoft Teams Getting New View Switcher Menu

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Over the last two years, Microsoft has been updating its Microsoft Teams service at a rapid pace. As the company seeks to keep pace with and better rivals like Slack and Zoom, Teams gets major updates every month. So, when something like a new View Switcher menu arrives, it is actually seen as a relatively small update.

Still, for users of Microsoft Teams the new View Switcher menu may be a valuable tool to have. Microsoft has announced the new feature and says it will gather all view options in Teams Meeting together in one menu.

Those options are Large Gallery, Together Mode, Gallery and more. Users can now access them in a dedicated menu found at the top left of a meeting window. In other words, they will be right in reach without users needing to shuffle through the navigation menu.

The feature is now listed on the Microsoft 365 roadmap with the following description:

“The new view switcher in the top bar of a Teams meeting allows participants to control how they prefer to see the meeting content. Choose between Together mode, Focus, Gallery at top, and Full screen.”

Update

It is a small update that simply improves the usability of Microsoft Teams. Microsoft says it will begin launching the feature for some users by late October. The update will be gradual and reach all Teams customers by mid-November.

This is the latest feature to roll off the Microsoft Teams production pipeline. Last month, Microsoft introduced its Customer Lockbox tool on the app. Microsoft uses the Lockbox on numerous platforms and apps, such as Azure, OneDrive for Business, Exchange Online, and SharePoint Online. It prevents Microsoft from accessing information when a customer is troubleshooting or servicing.

Tip of the day: Windows Aero Shake is a handy feature that lets you quickly reduce screen clutter with a shake of an app’s title bar. Doing so minimizes all windows other than the one in focus, allowing you to focus solely on what’s at hand. Another wiggle lets you undo Aero Shake, maximizing the other Windows again so you can continue working.

Unfortunately, the feature can also have unintended consequences. Those who move their windows about or have dual monitors may notice that they’re accidentally activating Windows shaking. Luckily, enabling or disabling Aero shake isn’t too hard.

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Microsoft Announces Massive Skype Updates Coming Soon

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Skype has become something of a secondary communication app following the success of Microsoft Teams. Certainly, Microsoft puts more resources into updating Teams with new features on a regular basis. However, Skype has not been forgotten and Microsoft is now announcing a bunch of new features coming to the platform.

In a roadmap of changes coming to Skype over the coming month, Microsoft is showing the next era of the platform. Skype is an old service by now, but it has been refreshed several times in the past. While Microsoft is not planning a complete overhaul, it is making changes to help the app compete in a Zoom world.

We will jump straight into the changes, but it is worth noting Microsoft is offering no launch dates for any new features. “Coming soon” or “coming later this year” on that front.

Leading the list of changes is a new stage for calls. The grid system that displays all participants in a call will now show everybody, even if they do not have their camera on. This is a very Zoom and Microsoft Teams inspired feature and makes it easier to track participants.

Furthermore, the call stage is also getting some customization options in the form of theme and layouts. In terms of the latter, you users can choose between Together Mode, content view, grid view, speaker view, and large gallery.

When a participant is only in audio mode, Skype will provide more options for how you see them. This includes the ability to choose customized backgrounds for audio caller windows.

Other Updates

Moving away from the call stage, Microsoft is also refreshing the whole Skype application. For example, there is a new layout system coming to Chat headers, including group avatars and button gradients. Microsoft is also tapping into its Fluent Design UI aesthetic across the Skype experience to add a new theme and look to the app.

Furthermore, Microsoft is promising to improve Skype across all web browsers:

“We believe the Skype experience should be seamless, accessible, and reliable no matter what browser or device you are using, so we are adding support for all browsers. We would like to make sure that no matter which device, platform, or browser you’re using, Skype will always give you a great experience.”

Microsoft is also talking up a feature known as TwinCam, which allows users to pair their smartphone with Skype to function as a second camera during calls. Finally, the PSTN Translator addition allows direct communication with people who speak another language during voice and video calls.

Tip of the day: Did you know that a virtual drive on Windows 10 can help you with disk management for various reasons? A virtual drive is just simulated by the platform as a separate drive while the holding file might be stored anywhere on your system.

The data in the drive is available in files or folders, which are represented by software in the operating system as a drive. In our tutorial we show you different ways how to setup and use such

virtual drives.

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