We’re breaking down the many details of updates to apps such as Teams, Microsoft 365 and Power Platform, following Microsoft Ignite which took place on 2-4 March 2021.

With 100,000 attendees from varying industries around the world, the tech giant has laid out what we can expect to see coming up and provided an update on some of Microsoft’s latest features and technologies.

With over 50 events to choose from, we joined the conversation so we can share with you what we learned that’s relevant to internal communication and the digital workplace.

First up: Microsoft Teams

New presenter modes

The most exciting (we think) of the updates is the ability to manage how you look whilst presenting in Teams. Currently, sharing your screen is a basic function that can sometimes be tricky to use as it’s not always clear if you need to select the ‘share desktop’ or ‘share window’ option.

With so many of us spending so much of our time on video calls, it’s great news that the experience is going to improve in the near future as the first of three new modes will be available this month.

  • Standout mode: Standout mode makes presentations much more fun with the ability to transform users into a silhouette that floats above slide deck content. Release date: March 2021.
  • Presenter mode: The second mode is called ‘presenter mode’, which allows you to take on the role of a TV presenter, where the content is placed above your shoulder to give your audience an interactive experience. Release date: available soon.
  • Side-by-side: The third and final mode, called side-by-side, splits the screen in two so you can have your webcam feed directly next to the presentation slides. Release date: available soon.

Microsoft Office: PowerPoint

PowerPoint Live

We can all look forward to more engaging, easier-to-follow presentations as PowerPoint Live enables a single view which shows meeting chat and notes alongside your slides.

Attendees are also able to navigate through your slides at their own pace – we’re all familiar with the realisation that we’ve missed a key piece of information but don’t want to interrupt the speaker.

This feature, available now, makes presentations more accessible for audience members who have a learning disability and want to read the slides without the worry of missing something.

Up next: Microsoft Mesh

Continuing the theme of boosting engagement, Microsoft Mesh is a new mixed-reality platform, creating an online environment that gives the impression that colleagues are physically together.

Microsoft have revealed that users can connect as avatars or holograms and collaborate on 3D content. The release date is unknown, but some users are able to test Mesh in preview.

The platform is protected by the Azure cloud – offering enterprise level security – to allow download of the new app in mixed-reality platforms such as HoloLens 2.

Finally: Microsoft Azure

Ignite announced Azure updates galore, but here are the key updates relevant for communicators.

Azure Cognitive Search

Azure Cognitive Search is Microsoft’s cloud-based artificial intelligence service, which is currently in preview.

Designed to make developers’ jobs easier, Azure Cognitive Search challenges norms by providing results based on user behaviour, as opposed to keyword search.

For communicators, this update means a better and more intelligent search experience, as it is able to understand the content as well as the number of keywords used.

64 new languages

Another update that’s great for our multilingual colleagues is the addition of 64 new languages to data extraction capabilities, making a total of 73 languages available. Release date: March 2021.

Azure analytics

The final update on our list is the improvements to Azure’s analytics tools, intended to provide a better customer experience with deeper insights. Now available, it also promises faster, more reliable analytics, for organisations who want to stay ahead of the curve in an ever-changing industry.

THE AUTHOR

Laura Riaz

Laura Riaz is simply’s content creator. With a strong background in copywriting and social media management, she thoroughly enjoys writing about the wonders of internal comms.

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