Microsoft today announced that it is making generally available two new capabilities for Teams – Webinars and PowerPoint Live. The webinar capability was first announced as coming to Pro plan users via a Message Center notification back in February. However, the ‘Pro’ plan mention was later clarified as being incorrect, with the company saying that it will launch the feature as part of the current subscription for enterprises. PowerPoint Live began rolling out in March and is now generally available.
While Teams has mostly been a tool suited for internal meetings and communication, the company aims to make it more useful for external presentations and webinars. Webinars can be interactive with up to 1,000 attendees and include management features for organizers such as registration pages, the ability to control attendee feeds, “rich presentation options”, and post-event reporting. Post-event reporting can help organizers gauge participation and gather feedback if required. Starting this month, Dynamics 365 Marketing customers will also be able to export attendee data directly from Teams for automatic campaign creation and customer journey mapping, thanks to the integration between Teams and Dynamics 365.
The company adds that users will be able to expand webinars in view-only form to 20,000 users till the end of the year, keeping in mind increased remote work during the pandemic. However, starting next year, the feature will be limited to 10,000 view-only attendees.
The other nifty feature making it to Teams users is Presenter mode for PowerPoint Live presentations. PowerPoint Live presentations let attendees interact with presentations without affecting the presenter’s view – meaning that users can navigate between slides if they wish to during a live presentation without disturbing the actual presentation. They can also use screen readers or high contrast mode, helping them consume the presentation at their desired pace.
Presenters also have the option of viewing multiple slides, attendees’ video feeds, and notes without impacting the presentation. The Redmond firm first debuted this feature in PowerPoint for the web. The firm says that it will also add translation capabilities, letting users translate slides to a language of their choice during a live presentation.
Presenter modes further improve live presentations by allowing presenters to change how slides are displayed on the screen. Users can have their video feed superimposed on the presentation in Standout mode, have the content shown as a “visual aide” above their shoulders in Reporter mode, or place the video and presentations next to each other in Side-by-side mode. Standout mode will roll out later this month, while the rest of the modes will be made available “shortly after”.
Microsoft will be rolling out the full webinar capabilities to Microsoft 365 E3/E5, Microsoft 365 A3/A5, and Microsoft 365 Government G3/G5 customers without any additional costs. Microsoft 365 Business Standard and Microsoft 365 Business Premium plans subscribers will be limited to using the features for 300 users. The company adds that “all” Teams users can “try out” the webinar features as part of a “promotional period” till the end of 2021.