Microsoft Teams

Microsoft Teams

What you need to know about Microsoft Teams Room Systems


Background to Microsoft Teams Room Systems

With the release of Microsoft Teams, Microsoft has introduced the use of Microsoft Teams Room Systems.  Microsoft Team Room systems build upon the experience of Skype for Business certified devices and ultimately take them even further with even more integration into Microsoft 365. The units are now capable of integrating into Intune and you can administer through Microsoft Teams admin centre.

What is it we need?

Microsoft Teams Room System

First things first, we need a Microsoft Teams Certified Room System. The room systems have been around for some time and have matured as a product. Original Room Systems supplied by companies like Logitech as a Smart Dock required you to build a Microsoft Surface Pro running Windows 10 into a docking station provided. You can then use that as your Microsoft Teams Room System. Thankfully the devices have matured significantly; they now run a hardened Windows 10 IoT that allows you to partially configure before they arrive at your location and then signed in and updated through the normal provisioning services. This is a massive improvement in historical systems.


Standard: The most straightforward license we require is a Meeting Room License; there are two versions of the license.  The standard license, which retails at $15 per month, includes integration into Skype for Business, Microsoft Teams, a Microsoft Phone System license, Microsoft PSTN audio conferencing, Microsoft InTune, and worldwide availability.

Premium: The premium license, which is a hefty $50 per month, comes with everything included in standard plus Microsoft Teams Room Managed Services. With the Premium managed services means that you get your room systems automatically updated, the devices are reviewed to see if they have any issues located on them, they are monitored all the time.  We get intelligent dashboarding that indicate where the issues are and what needs to happen to keep the devices healthy.  You can see in the enclosed example that the outline of what an unhealthy Meeting room system looks like and how it is currently suffering from the USB Camera being removed.

Screenshot of Microsoft Teams Room Systems

The outputs from these services can then be made into alerts which then can also be made into automated remediation activities which resolve some of the incidents on your behalf.

Read more: Using sensitivity labels with SharePoint sites, Microsoft Teams, and M365 groups – Part 1

These services can also be made part of a ServiceNow integration, where Microsoft will provide an automated tier 1 support and will provide rudimentary troubleshooting and will provide incident diagnostics and prescriptive guidance with simple cause and actions.

You also get enhanced insights about how the systems are being used.  Daily reports and dashboards around the performance of the room and the daily activities as well as trend analysis.

You can get a lot out of the Premium License but it certainly does come at an additional price.  This would need to be weighed into the overall solution.

Summary of what is required:

  • Device
  • License (Meeting Room Standard or Premium)
  • Administrator Rights with Office 365 Tenant – significant enough to create a meeting room within Exchange, assign licenses, and enable Microsoft Teams.  In this scenario, I’ve used a global admin account.

How to enable a Microsoft Teams Room System:

From PowerShell as an admin:

You’ll need the Exchange Online PowerShell Module

You’ll need the Microsoft Azure Active Directory Module

You’ll also need the Skype for Business Online Module

Connecting to Microsoft 365:

Validating Licenses:

Once all the pre-requisites are completed, and you can sign in successfully into Microsoft Teams, Exchange online. The Azure active directory services, the SKU list will need to be validated.

Validate meeting room licenses, validate MEETING_ROOM appears, in this scenario, we are applying a Standard Meeting Room license.

Assigning the variables:

In this scenario, I have created a new meeting room within Exchange online.

  • $newRoom  This exchange meeting room has an alias of This is the address we will use to sign in to the Microsoft Teams room.
  • $name The name of the meeting room is known as Microsoft Teams Room; however, this is likely to be something similar to – Ground Floor Meeting Room 1 or similar at your locations.
  • $pwd Password is submitted the first time in the exact text. You can configure this to auto-renew or to auto change in the future where the device and Azure AD can allow the device to change passwords regularly to adhere to your security policies.
  • $license The Meeting Room license type, which we have identified in the Get-MsolAccountSku as above.
  • $location The last bit of information is the location in which your meeting room resides.  In my scenario, the device is located in the United Kingdom, so GB’s location will be used.

Configure the following for attributes for each meeting room required:

Creating a new mailbox for the room

Once you’ve set the variables, you can create the meeting room.

The replication warning is not uncommon; it is purely a warning and not a failure.

Mailbox configuration

After 30 seconds to let Office 365 replicate through and in this commandlet, we assign the password never to expire and we are setting the usage location.

Assign the Microsoft Meeting Room License:

Assigning the Microsoft Meeting Room license will allow the mailbox/meeting room account to become active.

Setting a mailbox tip

I find setting a mailbox tip helps when someone books a room so they know that the room is ready to be used as such, clearly this information can be amended to suit your organisation.  This is a sample of one used previously.

Enabling automatic calendar invites

It’s good to have an automated response and an automatic acceptance if the meeting room is free by best practice.

Finding Registrar Pool

First, we need to know what the online registrar pool is. To do this we run the following commandlet.

Enable the meeting room for Microsoft Teams

Using the information found above, the meeting room is then enabled to use Microsoft Teams.

Outbound PSTN Calling

On some occasions, a meeting room may need to make outbound calls to a telephone number.  On these occasions, the following PSTN configuration will need to be made.

If outbound calling is required – Assign Calling Plan, in this example, a PSTN2 calling plan is assigned.

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Microsoft Teams

Microsoft Teams Personal Version Gets Desktop Feature Update


Microsoft Teams is available as a consumer version these days. Microsoft launched the consumer Teams alongside Microsoft 365 Family. Over the months, both Android and iOS have gotten some interesting consumer fronted features. Now it is the turn of the PC version.

Microsoft Teams consumer users on Windows 10 and browsers can now pick up some new tools in preview. It is worth noting many of these new PC consumer features borrow heavily from business tools on Microsoft Teams, albeit with a twist.

For example, users can now start chats and create groups of up to 250 people, and see up to 49 people in Gallery or Together Mode. Furthermore, chats can now by synced from mobile versions of consumer Teams to PC and browser versions.

Below is the full list of new tools available for the service:

  • “Start a personal chat or create a group chat with up to 250 people.
  • Seamlessly sync existing chats from a phone to a computer and continue conversations on the device of your choice.
  • Talk all day for free with friends and family via video or audio calls.
  • Share video meeting invites with anyone, even if they don’t have Teams.
  • View up to 49 people in one frame in Gallery view or Together mode.
  • Upload and share photos and videos from your computer in any personal or group chat.”

If you are unfamiliar with Microsoft Teams for consumers, it is not a separate application. Instead it is baked into the regular Teams experience. Users can tap into the consumer side of the app by adding a personal account.

Microsoft is currently only running consumer Teams in preview for select customers.

Mobile Features

While this latest update is focusing on the desktop version playing catch up, Microsoft says some new tools are also coming to mobile users. For example, it is now possible to chat with people who do not have the Teams app on their phone.

The following features are also coming to iOS and Android in the coming weeks:

  • Add group events from your chats to your device’s calendar.
  • Get task and location updates in your activity feed.
  • Add a photo to your personal Safe.

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Microsoft Teams

Microsoft Teams Power Apps and Dataverse Integrations Leave Preview

Microsoft-Teams-Microsoft-Official-696×392 (1)

Through 2020, a slew of features and abilities have come to Microsoft Teams, making an already powerful app even more so. In the latest boost for the workplace chat/collaboration service, Microsoft is adding new Power Apps and its Dataverse service to Teams.

Microsoft is pitching Teams as a true competitor to Zoom these days. While the battle for enterprise chat is more weighted in Zoom’s favour, in terms of additional abilities there’s no doubt Teams leads the way.

Integration with Power Apps and Power Virtual Apps adds abilities to Microsoft Teams that Zoom cannot achieve. In terms of Power Apps, Teams users can now create custom low-code applications that work within the platform.

Teams hosts an app studio that developers can use to build apps and deploy them across an organization. One of the benefits of using the app studio is apps are automatically ready to roll out across platforms and devices by using Teams.

It’s a similar story with Power Virtual Agents, which allow users in Teams to create their own chatbots. With minimum coding, bots can be built in the bot studio for the creation of tools to be used within an organization.

Microsoft Dataverse

Microsoft Teams is also getting an integration with Redmond’s Dataverse service. This ability is leaving preview and now becoming generally available for all Teams users:

“Dataverse for Teams provides a subset of the full Microsoft Dataverse (formerly known as CDS) capabilities but more than enough to get started building apps and bots for your organizations. Dataverse for Teams also improves application lifecycle management, allowing customers seamless upgrades to more robust offerings when their apps and data outgrow what comes with their Office 365 or Microsoft 365 licenses.”

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Microsoft Teams

Microsoft Warns of Microsoft Teams “FakeUpdates” Attack Campaigns


Microsoft has been doing a lot this year to make Microsoft Teams stand out from the workplace collaboration/communication crowd. Despite several security improvements, the popular service is still a target for attacks. That makes sense considering how popular Teams is and that it integrates with Office 365 and wider systems.

Microsoft researchers say threat actors are leveraging fake ads for Microsoft Teams to deploy backdoor attacks on victim machines. It seems the attacks are based on the Cobalt Strike to enter networks and install malware.

It is worth noting there is no direct issue within Microsoft Teams. Rather, attackers are using Teams to create legitimacy for their attack. Microsoft says customers should be aware of “FakeUpdates” campaigns.

Bleeping Computer found a security advisory by the company that warns customers. This advisory has not been made public by Microsoft. Instead, it is being sent privately to Teams customers.

FakeUpdates attacks work in a similar way to other phishing campaigns. Attackers target users by sending them something that looks legitimate, in this case a call to update Microsoft Teams. Unwitting victims will engage with the message and malware is installed on their system.


The report suggests threat actors are targeting K12 education organizations. Since the COVID-19 pandemic, these organizations have become heavily reliant on services like Microsoft Teams.

As noted, the attacks use the Cobalt Strike, which is a commodity attack-simulation that spreads malware. It is best known for ransomware attacks and has also been used to exploit the Zerologon vulnerability we have been tracking in recent months.

Organizations also can limit their attack surface to keep attackers at bay by blocking executable files that do not meet specific criteria or blocking JavaScript and VBScript code from downloading executable content, Microsoft advised.

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Microsoft Teams

Microsoft Offering Bonuses to Microsoft Teams Employees Helping to Beat Zoom


During 2020, Microsoft Teams has become one of the most important of Microsoft’s user-facing services. During the COVID-19 pandemic, usage numbers for communication tools went through the stratosphere. While Microsoft Team was along for the ride with massive growth, rival Zoom grew even more.

Microsoft is now reportedly offering employees bonuses if they can specifically help Microsoft Teams “win against Zoom and WebEx for meetings.”

A report by Business Insider centered on leaked internal documents details Microsoft’s bonus plans. This also shows the company is clearly serious about overturning Zoom in the ongoing communication app wars.

At the start of this year, any thoughts about Teams and Zoom being major competitors were fleeting. Microsoft was driving Teams against Slack for the last few years and Zoom was an also ran with a few million users.

When COVID-19 hit, Zoom’s usage surged from 10 million to over 300 million in a matter of weeks. Suddenly it was the big meetings app and Microsoft wanted some of the action. Increasingly, the company has been steering Teams towards Zoom in terms of features.

Yes, Teams still competes with Slack, but it also targeting more video/chat communication. Microsoft believes with Office 365 behind it, Teams can provide a service that combines the best of its main rivals into a single service.


Let’s be clear, Zoom is thriving, but it is not like Teams is struggling. During Microsoft’s fiscal Q1 earnings call last month the company confirmed Teams usage is now at 115 million daily active users. In fact, during the era of the communication app wars, many apps are doing well. Slack, Google Meet, and others.

Still, Microsoft believes it can do more and is enticing employees to help in its fight against Zoom. Bonuses will be given to employees who deliver on “core priorities.” While these priorities are different for each role, they incentify employees to achieve “critical indicators of success.”

For the cloud role, Microsoft says the core priority is to “create customer value by accelerating cloud consumption/usage, supportability, and influence upsell – drive monthly active usage [MAU] of meetings on Teams, and platform and apps on Teams.”

It is worth noting Microsoft has not confirmed whether these bonuses are real or not.

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Microsoft Teams

Microsoft Teams Together Mode Arrives on Android


Back in July, Microsoft Teams got a new Together mode as part of a big update for the communication service. However, the new mode was in preview and then only available on specific platforms. Now, Microsoft says the new Microsoft Teams Together mode is landing on Android.

Available for all Teams users on Google’s platform, Together mode is bundled with a wider update for the app.

With Together mode, Microsoft wants team members and meeting participants to appear as if they are in the same location. It is a small touch, but a nice one for organizations that value a uniform output.

By using AI segmentation, Microsoft Teams can place meeting participants within a shared background. The idea behind this is to make it look more like participants are in the same room together. Microsoft Teams is getting Together Mode in preview from today, with a general release penciled for August.

More Features

Elsewhere in the latest Android update, Teams is also getting picture-in-picture and natural language searches for messages. Below is the full changelog for the new update:

  • “Search the way you talk. Natural language support when searching for messages.
  • Spelling suggestions for search terms that might be spelled incorrectly.
  • Caller ID for voicemail messages.
  • Use the operating system PiP when in calls and meetings.
  • View up to 49 participants in a meeting with ‘Together mode’ and large gallery mode.
  • View spotlighted participants in a meeting.”

Microsoft Teams for Android is available from the Google Play Store here with the new features above included.

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Microsoft Teams

Microsoft Overtakes Google in “Best Brand” Ranking


Market research firm Interbrand yesterday published its 2020 Best Global Brands ranking. All the usual names were included, and it is good news for Microsoft as it reached third spot. In doing so, the Redmond company overtook tech rival Google.

Each year, Interbrand names the best brands and Google topped Microsoft in 2019. However, with a value growth (US$166B) in 2020, Microsoft has overtaken Google. So happy was Microsoft with this result, the company made an official announcement.

However, the company could not overtake fellow tech giants Apple and Amazon. Apple remains the number one brand, while Amazon took home second place.

Interbrand also details the overall results, highlighting the brand potency of tech companies:

“The overall value of the table has increased to US$2,336,491m (up 9% from 2019). Driving growth of the table is big tech. Average brand value growth among all growing brands was 14%. Average growth of technology and tech platform brands was 20%. Technology and tech platform brands now represent 48% of total table value versus only 17% in 2010. The top 3 brands in the table (all tech) represent 30% of the value of the entire table versus only 16% in 2010.”


This is not the first time in recent months that Microsoft has overtaken Google in a brand ranking. Back in August, BrandZ published its Top 10 Most Valuable Global Brands 2020 study. It’s good news this year for Microsoft has it has moved into third position, overtaking Google after years of being in fourth place.

Once again, Apple and Amazon led the BrandZ report, although Amazon topped the Cupertino giant to be number one.

Amazon and Apple were fellow trillion-dollar companies alongside Microsoft last year, 2020 has seen a change. In fact, Microsoft was the only company to keep its trillion-dollar market value after the COVID-19 pandemic started.

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Microsoft Teams

Microsoft Teams Chats Get Offline Mode


Microsoft Teams is one of the most perpetual apps in Microsoft’s portfolio. The company is consistently improving the workplace collaboration and communication tool. In the latest major update for Teams, the company is finally bringing offline mode to chats.

As Microsoft furthers Teams as an all-round professional communication platform that combines Slack and Zoom into one, offline mode feels like an essential addition.

Users can now perform some functionality without needing the internet. For example, it is possible to compose messages, browser recent chats, and look at channels. Of course, any written messages will be updated to the recipient the next time Microsoft Teams has a connection.

Teams will automatically place any written messages in a queue. Microsoft has not said if there is a limit on the number of messages able to be stored offline. As such we presume there is not limit. However, the company says if a connection is not established in 24 hours, pre-composed messages will be deleted.


As we reported in March, Microsoft has been working on bringing offline mode to Teams for some time. In fact, it has been one of the most requested features amongst users since Teams’ launch in 2018.

“Limited network connectivity is a reality for many of our users around the world. In March, we launched the ability to run the desktop client on Windows and macOS in environments with limited bandwidth or without a network connection. This was accomplished through caching of data and code, and we also adopted a local fetch approach over network requests which led to improved launch times of the desktop client. Now we’re working on allowing users to author messages even when offline and have them automatically sent when network connectivity is reestablished,” Microsoft says.

The company says offline mode is currently only available for the desktop version of Microsoft Teams.

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Microsoft Teams

Microsoft Teams Gets Spotlight and Hard Mute on Wide Release


As we move into October, Microsoft Teams is gaining new features. The new tools will further boost the ever-evolving workplace collaboration and chat services. With this latest update, Teams users can now access a couple of features that will help when giving presentations.

Hard Mute and Spotlight will give presentation users, such as educators, the ability to add more focus.

Microsoft initially announced both features at Ignite 2020 last month and started rolling them out. Now the company is formally revealing them as available to all users on Windows and other Microsoft Teams platforms.

Starting with Hard Mute, it does as its name suggests. Users giving a presentation can now stop attendees from unmuting their microphone during a meeting. This prevents any unwanted audio during a presentation.

Microsoft says the tool is turned off by default, so users will need to enable it if they want.


As for Spotlight, it is a feature that allows presenters to focus on a specific person withing a meeting. It is easy to see how this tool can be applied for educators. As an example, a teacher wants to ask a question to a specific pupil, they can now focus on that person with Spotlight.

Microsoft points out the feature only functions in a live meeting. This means users who are recording their presentations won’t see the individual highlighted on playback.

Teams users are coming off the back of a September where numerous new features were brought to the platform. One of Microsoft’s focuses last month was delivering a better experience for users. With that in mind, the company made several performance tweaks.

For example, video rendering on desktop will now reduce GPU and CPU load, a 40% battery gain when working in the background on iOS, and better performance in low connection situations on Android.

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Microsoft Teams

Microsoft Teams September Updates Include Performance Gains and Reflect Integration


As is tradition, Microsoft has published a blog post highlighting the Microsoft Teams improvements made over the last month. During September, there were plenty of additions to the popular collaboration and work chat tool.

These monthly summaries are a good way to see what was made available during a month. While many features will be well reported, some may have slipped under the radar.

One of the goals of September was to boost the performance of Microsoft Teams across platforms. Microsoft explains launch times for the desktop version have improved by 30%. This gain was possible by the app now delaying the launch of “non-essential operations”.

Furthermore, the desktop version of the platform now supports offline sending. When a message is created in offline mode, it is automatically sent when Teams later connects online. Elsewhere in the performance department, video rendering on desktop will now reduce GPU and CPU load, a 40% battery gain when working in the background on iOS, and better performance in low connection situations on Android.

Onto some features. Microsoft Teams is now fully up to speed with Microsoft’s rollout for a 7×7 grid that allows 49 video meeting participants.

More Features

Microsoft added 49 video participants in a meeting, coming in line with Zoom during August. Microsoft has been teasing 49 meeting participants on screen at once for some time. Redmond confirmed the feature in July before saying it was likely to arrive in the fall. Instead, it shipped ahead of schedule and has now fully rolled out to all users.

As we reported last month, Teams has also got a new “Reflect” extension and Praise Badges. The new Reflect tool allows educators to connect with students and engage in SEL classes. Praise Badges are SEL-specific (Social and Emotional Learning) Praise Badges that highlight students. They provide a way to give recognition to students who make small gains in learning.

Lists on Teams is now widely available, after being in preview on Office 365 since July.

For first-line workers, the Walkie Talkie feature announced earlier this year is now coming to the Android version of Teams. This ability 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.

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