Microsoft is launching Microsoft Teams Premium today, a new offering designed to boost its chat and collaboration app with some AI-powered smart features. The biggest addition is a new meeting recap feature that essentially adds an AI virtual assistant to each meeting to share highlights and automatically capture all of the important parts. It’s like having your own assistant to take notes for you, even if you’re not there.
“Today you get a meeting recap, after a meeting you get a recording and the transcript so you can get all that information, but you spend a lot of time sorting through the information to find ‘what’s pertinent or relevant to me,’” explains Nicole Herskowitz, general manager for Microsoft Teams, in an interview with The Verge. “What intelligent recap does is it breaks the meeting up into intelligent chapters.”
The idea is that the feature will reduce a 40-minute meeting you might not have fully participated in down to 10 minutes, highlighting when you’re mentioned or a screen is shared. And if you had to leave a meeting early, you can go back later and automatically catch up on the meeting where you left off.
Microsoft Teams Premium also includes a highly requested AI-powered live translation feature. “We’re now rolling out translated live captions, up to 40 languages that we automatically translate from voice to text and other languages,” says Herskowitz. “It really supports inclusive collaboration in meetings, so anyone can participate and really track in their native language.” This will be a great improvement for businesses where teams are remote and often span many different languages.
Microsoft is also improving the security of Teams meetings with its Premium offering. Similar to how there are DRM protections available for Office documents, Teams meetings will include new safeguards to keep confidential information secret on calls.
“There’s been a big customer demand to put more sensitivity capabilities into Teams meetings,” explains Herskowitz. “We have this new capability called advanced meeting protections, which will allow you to do things like watermarking or decide who can record in a meeting.”
Microsoft Teams Premium will also include new meeting guides, which are essentially policy-like defaults for IT admins that apply the correct meeting options and restrictions. Businesses can also set up virtual appointments for customers or even host high-quality webinars.
Outside of Premium, more features are coming to Microsoft Teams soon. Excel Live, which has been in testing for months, is rolling out in November to allow meeting attendees to live-edit Excel files directly in Teams. Together Mode, a popular feature that came about during the pandemic, is also getting a new feature to let organizers and presenters assign seats to participants in the Together Mode view.
AI-recommended replies are also coming soon, making it easier to quickly reply to messages in Teams or @ mention groups of people. There’s even the ability to schedule when you want to send a message in Teams, so you’re not that annoying colleague pestering people at 6AM.
All of these Teams improvements come just as Microsoft joins forces with Cisco. Microsoft Teams will soon be able to be set as the default on Cisco conferencing hardware. The first wave of Teams-certified devices will arrive in the first half of 2023. That’s big news, particularly as Cisco runs its own Webex video calling software.
Speaking of partnerships, Microsoft also announced one with Meta this week that will see Microsoft Teams appear on Quest headsets soon. Microsoft is even adapting Meta’s avatar system for Teams and supporting Meta’s own Horizon Workrooms. Microsoft is now starting to test its own Teams avatar system in private preview, but there’s no news on when everyone will be able to transform into an avatar in Teams just yet.
Microsoft isn’t discussing pricing for Teams Premium just yet. These new features will start rolling out in December as part of Teams Premium public preview, with the launch of Teams Premium expected in February 2023.