This week on the Practical 365 podcast, Paul and I are talking about Microsoft Teams and the Hybrid Workplace. Microsoft has released “Hybrid Work Guides for your Business”. And, whilst producing brochures for your executives to read about how to improve Hybrid work – Teams Rooms gets some licensing changes – which you’ll either love or… not love so much. Plus, ever wanted a universal translator? Teams delivers…

TEC – The Experts Conference is less than two weeks away

Will you be joining the Practical 365 crew in Atlanta? If so, make sure you prepare accordingly because in-conferences are firmly back and happening – as TEC will be in full flow from September 20th – 21st. Join Paul Robichaux, Tony Redmond, Ragnar Heil, and other MVPs. As Paul says on the show – the standard for TEC is extremely high so you’ll be in for a treat if you can make it. If you can’t make it, then join us next time on the show LIVE from TEC.

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MEC: The Lost Conference is Airlifted Back

The Microsoft Exchange Conference, MEC, was last held in-person for one last hurrah in Austin, Texas in 2014 – but MEC is BACK but with a twist. It’s an airlift-style community event. These are obviously much better in person, as a large proportion of the value of a conference is the networking & social aspects. The Teams airlifts – even the virtual ones – have been good. On the show, we discuss the line-up, which includes Microsoft luminaries like Perry Clarke, and a few names you might know – including a trio of my former podcast co-hosts, including former Practical 365 podcast co-host Sigi, and my former UC Architects co-hosts, Michel De Rooij & Dave Stork. Plus, as you might expect – some Microsoft names you know and love, with a sprinkling of Greg Taylor and Tony Redmond. It’s not an in-person conference like TEC but MEC might be the best virtual event you’ll attend this year.


Microsoft Releases Hybrid Work Guidance for your Business

Our first big topic on the show is Microsoft’s Hybrid Work guidance. Paul goes through some of the salient points Microsoft raises, and suggests that it’s all fairly innocent, reasonable stuff that no one would disagree with. I disagree. We go through some of the good stuff – but we ask the question – is this stuff too little, too late? Whilst we know when it comes to conferences, at least, Microsoft is a little behind the curve on going back to in-person; after all – they are a large business – a large ship to turn. So this guidance, whilst great – feels like much of what Microsoft field staff have been already saying to customers for at least a year, as have IT departments, Microsoft Partners, and others.

As businesses feel the effects of energy pricing on their businesses and the potential for an economic downturn, is flowery guidance on the perfect hybrid office kit list going to resonate, or does it need to link to the bottom line in a more tangible way? And why doesn’t it address the inequities felt by front-line workers compared to their work-from-home hybrid worker counterparts? In their defense – Microsoft clearly states it’s a work in progress, and they want to learn as much as they can and share it – so naturally, we’ll take a look in the future and see how it evolves.

Hybrid Work Guides from Microsoft

Microsoft Teams Rooms Become Both Cheaper and more Expensive, at the Same Time

In a rather strange move, Microsoft has replaced their fledgling Teams Room Premium “Managed Services” offering and Teams Rooms Standard licenses with a new, altogether more radical set of licenses.

Microsoft Teams Room Basic licenses are “free” – as in, Microsoft states you receive up to 25 per-tenant as part of your licensing agreement, to be used with the Microsoft Teams Rooms that you’ve purchased.

Teams Room Pro licenses are more than double the cost of the $15 Teams Standard licenses today – and at approximately $40, they are slightly less than Teams Premium licenses which retail at $50. You get a lot more for your money with Teams Pro than you did in Teams Premium, such as included voice licensing; but you may need Teams Pro licenses for many more of your rooms in the future. Features like Intelligent Speakers, Content Camera – and even the Front Row & Dual Screen Gallery views – or the device health stats currently in the Teams Admin Center, will all need the Pro license.

But – if you just want some basic functionality out of your $2K+ Teams Room systems, then you are in for a treat because you’ll get 25 basic licenses for free. For some, that’s a big win.

Finally – the “Managed Services” aspect of the older Teams Room System Premium license is kind of going away. It was never “boots on the ground”, but the process when an incident is automatically raised will now bypass having a Microsoft engineer look into it, and go straight to your IT department or fully-fledged managed service provider. That change happens on Oct 1st…

Read more about Microsoft Teams Rooms Basic and Pro

See the detail on the differences between Basic & Pro

Live Translated Captions in Meetings and Calls are Coming

Finally, on the show, we get something many people have been asking for, for a long time. You’ll soon be able to use live translation with captions in meetings – like a useful, real-life universal translator.

Being available in PowerPoint Live for a while now, this feature makes it easier for folks in global organizations to collaborate and better understand one another, or as Paul points out – much like captions, can be a useful aid for folks who might understand the language but need a little more support.

The feature works on an individual basis, so if you are using the feature to translate a meeting in, for example, English into your native language, other folks in the meeting using captions will see the captions in the meeting’s spoken language (unless of course, they pick a language to translate too).

There are use cases for both accessibility, but also I’ve spoken to customers who would like this feature to make it easier for their global support and customer services teams to be able to work across language boundaries.

We’ll be keeping an eye on this for when it arrives – it’s marked as MC420049 in the Message Center and should be rolling out fairly soon.

Join us in two weeks from TEC – but until then, let us know your Hybrid working tips in the comments below or hit either of us up on Twitter.

About the Author

Steve Goodman

Technology Writer and Chief Editor for AV Content at Practical 365, focused on Microsoft 365. A 12-time Microsoft MVP, author of several technology books and regular Microsoft conference speaker. Steve works at Advania in the UK as Field Chief Technology Officer, advising business and IT on the best way to get the most from Microsoft Cloud technology.

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