Microsoft is working on a new version of their Teams client that has been rebuilt from the ground up – according a report by Tom Waren over at The Verge. A preview of the new version should start rolling out in preview as soon as March and has been in internal testing with Microsoft for several months already.
Power to the users
Teams now has 280 million monthly active users, up from 270 million monthly active users in January 2022.
Microsoft are expected to initially allow businesses (who represent the core of its user base) to have the option over when to shift to the new version of the app to ensure there is time to fully test the app and update users on the changes to the UI, to ensure that the transition to the new Teams goes smoothly. This will likely be a combination of a global setting, preview users and user opt in.
Premium AI features will bring further enhancements
Microsoft is also working on enhances to the newly released Teams Premium and have all ready shared their plans to incorporate more AI features into Teams which includes features like, auto generated meeting notes, recommended tasks, and after meetin, personalised highlights.
Webex Contact Center is an Enterprise Class CCaaS solution that enables skill-based routing of inbound “call centre” type calls and is designed to provide a seamless end-to-end customer service experience across voice, chat, email, and social media channels.
This is great for organisations, Microsoft, Cisco, and solution partners.
Great for Organisations
The Webex Contact Center Integration for Microsoft Teams combines rich omni-channel customer engagement capabilities with Microsoft Teams to break down barriers between contact center agents and the enterprise.
Whilst the CCaaS space in Teams is already quite well served by other vendors such as Luware, Anywhere 365, and Enghouse, Cisco Webex Contact Centre is a true Enterprise Class Contact Centre, trusted by many of the world largest enterprise organisations including EasyJet for example.
Some organisations who have been keen to fully embrace the potential of Microsoft Teams have often found themselves compromising on alternative “certified” CCaaS platforms. They can now have the best of both in a fully supported environment.
Great for Microsoft
In short this helps them protect their install base, since Microsoft certainly does not want to see their competition like Zoom, RingCentral, or Google muscle into their accounts base on the strength of their CCaaS offerings. By working with Cisco (as they are also doing in the Meeting Room space) they can now work more strategically together since Cisco and Microsoft already share around 90% of the same customer base.!
Adds a truly enterprise class CCaaS platform into the Teams ecosystem
Will further strengthen the partnership and collaboration between Microsoft and Cisco, the two leading technology companies that offer complementary solutions increasing the overall value proposition to their shared customer base.
Helps Microsoft expands the market reach of Microsoft Teams, which is already boasts more than with 280 million monthly users without (less) fear of losing market share to Cisco.
For organisations who require the best CCaaS solutions without compromising or mixing their collaboration and productivity tools, they leverage Cisco Webex Contact Centre without disrupting the flow of work for loyal Teams users with a seamless and integrated CCaaS solution from Cisco.
Great for Cisco
For Cisco this enables them to compete less and instead offer enterprise CCaaS services to their existing customer base who have been migrating or plan to migrate their UC platform to Microsoft Teams. Rather than risk losing out on the Contact Centre solution, Cisco can now meet their customers on their “turf“, providing the Contact Centre and CX solutions their customers need on their collaboration and productivity platform of choice whether that is Webex or Microsoft Teams.
Great for Microsoft and Cisco Partners
OK, so a little plug here for Cisilion (my employer), but for us (and therefore for me personally) I am excited about this because this brings an immense opportunity for Cisilion to leverage our unique position in our Cisco and Microsoft partnerships expertise and capability which will hugely benefit the services and solutions we can deliver to our clients.
As a Microsoft Teams specialist partner and Cisco Master Collaboration partner in the we are now empowered to deliver the best in enterprise CCaaS solutions to our customers alongside their choice of wider collaboration and productivity tools whether that is Cisco CUCM, Cisco Webex, or Microsoft Teams.
It helps us to attract and retain customers who are looking for a seamless and reliable customer service experience across multiple channels without having to shift partner due to technology choice changes.
It enables us to strengthen our deep partnerships and experience with enterprise class calling, meetings, platform and contact centres solutions across the two leading trusted technology providers.
Extends our ability to provide end-to-end design, implementation, integration, support and manged services across Cisco and Microsoft Collaboration solutions.
Enables us to provide cost and operational efficiencies both internally and to our customers.
Cisco Webex Contact Centre for Teams
The key outcomes that Webex CCaaS provides when integrated with Teams includes:
For the first time, brings a Unified calling platform between Cisco Webex Contact Centre and the organisations Microsoft Teams environment.
Allows for improved cross-function collaboration, knowledge sharing, and Customer Experience reporting among agents, supervisors, and other Teams users.
Advanced intelligent skill-based routing and queuing, which means customers can reach the right agent faster and more efficiently.
Providing a full and seamless customer service experience across voice, chat, email, and social media channels.
Delivers the core functionalities that high-performing multi-disciplined customer service teams require, such as call recording, voicemail, auto attendant, intelligent AI powered chat services, call back and rich social media integration.
Includes next-generation end-to-end Cisco security for Enterprise Class data protection and privacy in combination with that provided across the Microsoft 365 Security suite.
Brings exceptional management and supervisory controls and actional insights over “customer call handling”, with features like call analytics, call quality management, sentiment analysis, call control and full customer Lifecycle management.
Find out more
For more information about the announcement please see the following links.
The Yealink DeskVision A24 is a revolutionary all-in-one collaboration device that blends the best of innovate monitor and UC hub with a leading class Android powered Teams Collaboration display that can be used as a personal device, huddle or bookable meeting endpoint. The Yealink DeskVision A24 is a leading example of innovation in this space, integrating a 24 inch 4K touch-display, “pop-up” privacy camera, high definition speaker, wireless charging, microphones, and touch screen monitor to offer a best-in-class desktop collaboration experience.
if you’d rather skip to the video review – you can do so here:
The device costs £1,699 RRP which is great value compared to the competition on the market and adds to the huge line up of premium Teams and Zoom certified devices that they have to offer.
Innovative, Sleek and Beautifully crafted
What I love about this device that sets it aside, IMO, to other devices in this space, is that the display can be positioned from 90 degree vertical to almost horizonal with it’s smooth arm, in motion very similar to that of the Surface Studio. This makes it idea for Whiteboard use as a second screen [though if it supported use of a Surface Pen that would make it even more awesome].
This is a really premium device – good quality, sturdy and functional. The look and feel is clean and minimalist and offers seamless switching between “Teams” mode and Second Screen mode. The movement of the device is also sleek and simple, offering full range of motion from vertical to almost horizonal making it perfect for different uses such as meetings, whiteboarding and collaborative apps – this is made possible through the unique light hinge designed to enable the screen to be tilted as needed in a very “Surface Studio” like design.
For added usability, there’s also lot of ports to plug peripherals into allowing it to serves as a UC workstation complete with a USB hub (which could power and charge my Surface Pro) and wireless charger for smartphones.
Yealink DeskVision A24 Key Features
Microsoft Teams Display running Android 10
Dual Display Mode (Teams Display and second screen)
Superior audio and video
Qi wireless charging for mobile phones etc
Touchscreen for whiteboard collaboration
Ports include 2x USB C (65w charge), USB C, Ethernet, headphone jack, HMDI In,
Leaders of the pack
At the launch of the device, Albert Kooiman, Director of Microsoft Teams Devices Partner Engineering and Certification said “Yealink consistently keeps expanding their portfolio with powerful Teams devices. These devices will offer sought after hybrid workplace collaboration experiences, delivering a great meeting experience combining quality Teams audio, video, and touch and inking, that can all be easily deployed across personal, hot desking and meeting rooms scenarios.”
As of Feb 2023, Yealink are the global market leader for Teams Rooms devices with a market share of [Source: Yealink].
Summary and Verdict
In short, Yealink’s DeskVision device is a great device that really can help bridge the gap between whiteboard collaboration and video conferencing device that can also serve as a really premium second-screen.
Through customer demos, feedback in the channel and colleagues, the A24 is real market leader in this (rather crowded vendor and product space) and delivers real people-centric meeting experiences and empowering meetings with all the capabilities and power of Microsoft Teams.
The device costs £1,699 RRP which is great value compared to the competition on the market.
I recently found an old RM Tablet PC from my days working as a Solution Architect at RM Education. After powering it up (it still worked), I decided it was time to write a back dated review of the device (which was powered by Windows XP Tablet PC Edition) that in my opinion, introduced and innovated the touch and Tablet centric world we are now so familiar with.
Education First XP Tablet Edition
In 2002, under the leadership of CEO Tim Pearson, RM Educationbecame the education launch partner for not only a new class of device that we now just take for granted. These devices ignited and innovated not just the education sector, but future waves of tablet and touch devices across, not just Windows based devices, but through to Apple, Amazon and Google.
Windows XP Tablet PC Edition was an edition of Windows XP built exclusively for this new era of Tablet PC computers with pen-sensitive screens, which was released on 7 November 2002. More on this later.
Windows XP Tablet Edition was full a windows XPs but also included various tools and accessories that could be used with a pen and included apps such as Windows Journal, InkBall, Sticky Notes, Office XP and Tablet PC Input Panel.
Microsoft also released an major update to the OS, Version 2005 (codenamed Lonestar)a couple of years later in August 2004 and both an OEM version and as a service pack update for the original Windows XP Tablet PC Edition.
Who was it for?
The RM Tablet PC saw three iterations – the original (pictured above) and an updated version a couple of years later and then the RM discovery tablet after that. These marked an evolution and true innovation in mobile computing world at the time – providing an entirely new interface and method of working that was natural, flexible and highly effective.
The innovative ‘slate’ design (totally unique at the time) focussed on leveraging the full power of a PC (Intel Celeron or Pentium M processors) into an ultra-portable device. There was no need for a keyboard and mouse – (though it of course supported it) and controlling the desktop was achieved through a pen used directly onto the screen, which incorporates the convenient and intuitive aspects of pen and paper into a radical new technology, along with new paper like apps like Microsoft Journal and the debut of Microsoft OneNote.
RM Tablet was build for educators and learners
In 2002 (wow.. that’s twenty one years ago) were the education launch partner for Windows XP Tablet and had built a tough, education focussed touch device that fitted well into the classroom (along with charging trollies to let teachers hand them out to students on a one to one ratio).
The RM tablets took mobile tablet computing way beyond standard laptops and current pen computing devices of their time, such as PDAs, by delivering a full Microsoft Windows XP Professional powered device that could be used either on or off the network (with 802.11b wireless) just like a notebook or standard PC. In fact, the RM Tablet PC exceeded existing PC hardware by utilising Microsoft’s most advanced operating system (at the time) with a version of XP enhanced specifically for touch and pen. RM also bundled their whole class teaching tools like Easy Teach worked a treat as teachers were already familiar with the software.
This was a real differentiator to just another laptop (RM Education used to manufacturer their own devices here in the UK in Abingdon, Oxford). Windows XP Tablet PC Edition included all the tools needed to effectively use the pen and touch through the OS, as well as many additional functions, including the added ability to annotate directly onto documents and text using ‘Digital Ink’. This is not to underestimated in terms of its innovation and revelance today. Digital Ink was the cornerstone of this now daily use technology, but at the time was a revolutionary new approach used across tablets, phones and covertable devices like Surface Pro.
This brought huge advantages to the classroom, and in my time working with Schools and Colleges back then, I witnessed 2005 some of the enormous impact it could bring, such as enabling students to use pen and ink in a digitial canvas with all the other benefits of word processing etc not taken away. Teachers used it for notes, printed onto whiteboards, removing the need for clunky overhead projectors that used to dominate classrooms.
IMO, there is no doubt that the RM Tablet PC opened up many possibilities for teaching and learning in ways that simply didn’t previously currently exist.
Life after Windows XP Tablet Edition
In many ways, as Microsoft often do, Windows XP Tablet Edition, set the groundwork and lot a fire for much of the next 10 years or so of innovation in touch and Tablet development which Apple, Google and Microsoft now dominate in their own ways.
With the release of Windows Vista in 2006, all Tablet PC components were then natively included with the OS itself without the need of a separate edition. This marked the start of the Tablet PC era from Microsoft which aimed to bring the best of touch and pen to traditional Windows devices without the need for a separate OS or dedicated apps.
Winding forward to today, 2023, tablet devices and 2-in1s dominate the workplace, front line workers, our personal lives, education and more. Apple have gone the route of dedicated tablets (with keyboards in some cases), whereas Microsoft have stuck by the original ethos that XP Tablet Edition started with touch and ink now firmly dynamically embedded within the Windows OS.
Did you know? : Windows Vista (which was seen as a failure in the eyes of many following the success of XP and the early teething and stability issues of Vista) was the seventh operating system in the Windows NT operating system lineup and was the version succeeding Windows XP and preceding Windows 7. It was the only version of Windows to later support upgrade paths from Windows XP and to Windows 7