Microsoft is making a big change to how Teams handles videos, giving meeting organisers a lot more control over who appears onscreen.
From the end of this month, organizers will be able to disable and enable video from specific attendees, or turn off the feeds of everyone on a call. This is potentially very useful, especially if you want everyone to focus on what the meeting leader is saying, rather than spying on people’s working spaces.
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It might also prove to be a valuable tool for people caught by surprise events. A meeting organiser could kill someone’s feed if they get called away suddenly, or their partner appears in the background dressed only in a towel, holding a bottle of wine and singing Britney Spears tunes.
There’s also the benefit that disabling video reduces the bandwidth and processing power necessary to participate in a meeting. With some companies doing their all-hands meetings on Teams, the potential for this to slow down computers and internet connections is worth bearing in mind — not everyone has gigabit fiber, after all.
News of this feature came via Windows Latest which spotted a Microsoft Teams forum post that requested these options over a year ago. The original post points out that these are features already found in Skype for Business that Microsoft hasn’t added. Of course, Microsoft has basically killed Skype through a staggering lack of attention, leaving a lot of people reliant on Teams for work.
The update is rolling out now, according to the Microsoft page tracking the issue, and will affect all platforms, including iOS, Android, Windows 10 and MacOS. Also being added is the ability to add external users to group chats — which is very helpful if you need to interact with external agencies on specific projects.
Now back to the day’s video meetings with you, and remember this is the most human contact people are getting right now. Get those niche gamer trophies in the background and give your colleagues something to gaze at while the host says things like “you’re on mute, Sarah” and “my connection is really bad today.”
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Ian has been involved in technology journalism since 2007, originally writing about AV hardware back when LCDs and plasma TVs were just gaining popularity. Nearly 15 years on, he remains as excited as ever about how tech can make your life better. Ian is the editor of T3.com but has also regularly contributed to Tom's Guide.