Microsoft will soon offer a new way to use its Microsoft Teams online meeting services for much bigger virtual gatherings. At the same time, it will also be retiring a feature that was also created to host larger live online events.
In a blog post, Microsoft announced the new Town Halls feature for Teams, which will become available for commercial users starting a week from now on Thursday, October 5. Here's a quick summary:
With town halls, customers can host various types of internal as well as external events including company-wide town halls, all hands, global team meetings, internal broadcasts, fireside chats, and more. Town halls in Microsoft Teams enable customers to extend their reach to scale their message and connect with audiences around the world; create professionally produced, studio-quality events that deliver a more dynamic experience; and structure and manage audience engagement to maximize participation and maintain focus on the event.
Some of the features in Teams Town Hall include being able to support up to 10,000 online attendees at once, and up to 20,000 attendees for Teams Premium subscribers. Also, up to 15 of these Town Halls can be run at one time, and up to 50 of them at once for Premium users. These events will be able to last up to 30 hours, which is the same limit in normal Teams meetings.
Any online presenters or hosts at the Town Hall can also gather beforehand in a virtual green room. Microsoft stated:
With the virtual green room, presenters have a separate, dedicated space separate from attendees where they can connect and talk live, stage content, do a quick briefing, and test run without disturbing attendees. In addition, presenters and organizers have a dedicated chat to leverage throughout the event that is not accessible for attendees.
Other features will include a way to moderate Q&A sessions between the attendees and the moderators, along with a recording of the event that attendees can view afterward
While Town Halls will be launching on October 5, Microsoft will also be retiring the current Teams Live Event feature, with plans to completely shut it down on September 30, 2024. Microsoft says that features that are available in Team Live Events, including DVR, a way to invite external presenters and more, will be added to the new Town Hall feature in the coming months.
Feature parity is scheduled to happen before Teams Live Events is retired. Any recordings of meetings on Teams Live Events will be deleted on December 31, 2024, but users can download those recordings and save them before that date.