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Microsoft Teams roadmap introduces telephony, interoperability

New Microsoft Teams features, ranging from telephony to advanced meeting tools, are coming down the pipeline, as Microsoft prepares for the migration from Skype for Business Online.

Many Skype for Business users probably won't migrate to Microsoft Teams over the next year, because they are concerned...

about the lack of telephony features in the new chat-based workspace in Office 365, according to one industry expert.

The Microsoft Teams roadmap, released this week, promises a slew of Skype for Business features over the coming months. But Microsoft won't fully roll out many of the telephony features until late next year.

"The biggest concern is Microsoft won't deliver a lot of the telephony set until well into 2018," said Irwin Lazar, a Nemertes Research analyst.

The Microsoft Teams roadmap details several Skype for Business features that will be rolled into Teams to help users prepare for a migration. Enterprise calling features -- such as call park, group call pickup, location-based routing and shared-line appearance -- are not expected until the fourth quarter of next year.

Additionally, the Microsoft Teams roadmap does not offer any new insights into Microsoft's collaboration strategy, Lazar said. The roadmap, however, does provide customers with a timeline of when they can expect to see certain telephony features in Teams.

"It provides more clarity and will help companies plan for an eventual transition to Teams," Lazar said.

Microsoft Teams roadmap: A bumpy ride?

The biggest concern is Microsoft won't deliver a lot of the telephony set until well into 2018.
Irwin Lazaranalyst at Nemertes Research

Microsoft announced last month that Teams would replace Skype for Business Online to become the main communications client within Office 365. The announcement left many organizations questioning the migration process and the quality of telephony within Teams.

After Microsoft posted a blog announcing the roadmap, several users commented to share their thoughts. Some users are happy about the change. They lauded the upcoming Microsoft Teams features, the integration between Skype and Teams, and how the roadmap helps organizations plan for the migration and improve adoption.

Other users, however, remain skeptical.

"Honestly I am very disappointed you are moving in this direction, I miss the days of a small simple interface like the old school Communicator," John Gooding posted in response to Microsoft's blog. "We tried Slack and Teams, and it was fun for 30 minutes then it turned into a productivity drag."

Messaging, meetings and more

The Microsoft Teams roadmap focuses on messaging, meetings and calling capabilities within the application. Lazar said the roadmap will help organizations with their user-awareness and adoption programs, and it will help them plan training for users as features become available.

Messaging. As a messaging-centric application, Teams already offers persistent, one-on-one and group chat. Features such as the ability to import contacts from Skype for Business, unified presence and messaging policies are expected to be available by the end of the first quarter of 2018. Microsoft expects to add screen sharing and federation between companies by the end of the second quarter of 2018.

Nemertes Research analyst Irwin Lazar discusses where Microsoft Teams fits in the collaboration market.

Meetings. Teams includes meeting capabilities such as screen sharing and capturing chats in the channel after a meeting. Later this quarter, Microsoft will debut audio conferencing in over 90 countries, meeting support in the Edge and Google Chrome web browsers, and call-quality analytics.

Microsoft will introduce meeting room support with Skype Room Systems, cloud video interoperability with third-party devices and support for the Surface Hub by the end of the second quarter of 2018.

Calling. Later this year, Microsoft plans to introduce voicemail, call forwarding, e911 support, Skype for Business to Teams calling, and IT policies for Teams interoperability. In the second quarter next year, Microsoft will enable customers to use their existing telecom voice line to activate calling services in Office 365. Additional capabilities such as call queues and one-to-one to group call escalation with Teams, Skype for Business and PSTN participants will also be available.

Additional Microsoft Teams features will roll out in the second quarter of 2018, including recording and storing meetings, meeting transcriptions and the ability to search key terms.

In an effort to clear up confusion over its collaboration roadmap, Microsoft will also update the names of its PSTN Calling, PSTN Conferencing and Cloud PBX services. PSTN Calling will be renamed Calling Plan, PSTN Conferencing will be named Audio Conferencing, and Cloud PBX will be called Phone System.

For features yet to be announced in the Microsoft Teams roadmap, Lazar said he'd like to see announcements around customers using on-premises Skype for Business being able to use the cloud-based Teams for telephony.

Next Steps

Microsoft Teams faces migration concerns from Skype for Business users

Five Microsoft Teams features that shake up the collaboration market

Lacking team chat interoperability creates productivity woes

Dig Deeper on Collaborative Applications

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