A couple major collaboration advancements were announced today @ Ignite, along with a few minor news notes.
- Mesh for Teams
- Microsoft Loop
Mesh for Teams:
The next step in 2D immersion will be previewed in the first half of 2022. Mesh for Microsoft Teams will enable new experiences with personalized avatars and immersive spaces where users can connect with presence and have shared immersive experiences.
People will be able to virtually interact with one another within Teams meetings, but rather than turn on their camera, can have an avatar likeness of themselves appear to the far end participants. Based on the tone and speech, the avatar will show facial and non-verbal body motions. People will be able to move up to a digital whiteboard, brainstorming on a digital canvas. They can annotate on their device which then is transcribed onto the virtual whiteboard. They’ll be able to access files via ODFB and annotate in them.
The feature combines the mixed-reality capabilities of Microsoft Mesh, which allows people in different physical locations to join collaborative and shared holographic experiences, with the productivity tools of Microsoft Teams, where people can join virtual meetings, send chats, collaborate on shared documents and more. Attendees might be represented by avatars, show themselves on video or use a static picture or bubble with initials. Rumor is, we’ll have legs in version 2.0! See https://aka.ms/AAdv6cd for a video demo!
Word, PowerPoint, Excel, and Teams aren’t going anywhere, but Microsoft is considering Office to be more than a document, or a file. Loop is the next breakthrough in document collaboration capabilities in an AI-enabled world. It’s a new canvas for “business process and collaboration.”
There are three core elements:
- Workspaces – people can group and view everything relevant to a project. The content can include Whiteboards, links, documents, messages, etc.
- Pages - flexible canvases that grow to focus on a project
- Components - atomic units of productivity that capture progress, tasks, and data. One visual showed a screen shot from SAP being pulled in via a built-in connector.
Loop looked a lot like a OneNote with connectors to other services, and real-time chat capabilities. Loop is shown as a separate app window, not within Teams, like Mesh is. It allows people to contribute via chat, meetings, documents, voting, likes, and plugging in data from other apps. It appeared simple to bring a snapshot of the Loop screens into Teams / Outlook.
It is interesting as a trend, and a feature, that Loop components (i.e. Dynamics 365 screens) can be inserted into Teams chats, updated live in Teams, and the changes are immediately pushed back to D365. The vision here is how much time can be saved by working on other apps within the context of a real-time collaboration session. The concerns will likely be around rights management, data protection, and compliance.
Microsoft touted Loop as a "Whole new way to work together." It looks valuable for some use cases, but seems like a niche, rather than an enterprise-wide app. It shares some characteristics of Teams, so expect some integration and some explanation about what to use when.
In addition, Teams Connect, where people from multiple organizations can collaborate, share, message and meeting in a shared channel without changing tenants, will be coming to Public Preview in Q1 2022.
A new / updated first-party video editing tool from Microsoft. It looks more promising than the native Win10 video editor.
An AI-driven addition to Editor, the spellcheck of the 2020s, Context IQ will suggest which files will want to attach/link into an email, @ mention appropriate people, and (YES!) suggest calendar times that work for all parties in the email.