Microsoft Teams to get Cortana integration, automatic translation

Posted Mar 12, 2018 by James Walker
Microsoft has announced it is preparing several new features for its Teams collaboration software. The company plans to integrate the app with its Cortana digital assistant. It app will also gain new AI capabilities, including automatic translation.
Cortana Intelligence Institute
Cortana Intelligence Institute
Microsoft revealed the under-development changes today as part of its celebration of Teams' first birthday. The company said that over 200,000 companies in 181 markets are now using Teams to collaborate. Although Microsoft didn’t disclose how many individual users that equates too, it appears as though enterprise adoption has been healthy during the app's first year.
Microsoft's now pushing Teams as a platform for "intelligent communications." It will expand on the service by rolling out new hooks into its existing cloud and AI platforms. Amongst the upcoming features are inline message translation, proximity detection for Teams Meetings, the option to share live video from mobile devices and automatic background blurring during video calls.
Cortana also plays a role in the upcoming update. The digital assistant's integration with Teams will let you use voice commands to make calls, join meetings and add new participants. The functionality will be available across platforms where Teams is available, including IP phones and conference room devices. Wherever you are, you'll be able to launch a meeting just by asking Cortana to start a call.
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Intelligence and integrations are now the prime selling points of enterprise collaboration software such as Teams. The new features could be major distinguishing factors for Teams as it enters its second year of availability. Microsoft is still trying to grow the app as an alternative to platforms such as Slack, although the company's aims now seem to be shifting.
This new set of intelligence options suggests Microsoft's starting to take a different approach towards Teams' development. It's focusing on building Teams as an intelligence-first enterprise knowledge hub, adding capabilities that aren't available in the more startup-oriented Slack. Digital assistance, automatic meeting recordings and real-time translation are ways in which Microsoft can develop the unique appeal of Teams while also demonstrating its expertise in AI.
"Over the last year, Teams has evolved to become the ultimate hub for teamwork. Built on the strength and scale of Office 365 with over 120 million users, Teams delivers chat-based collaboration, meetings, calling, and soon, full enterprise voice features," said Microsoft. "All of this is underpinned by the Microsoft Graph, allowing for rich AI capabilities."
There's no word yet on when the new features will be available. Microsoft said they should launch "later this year," alongside support for more meeting room devices and collaboration equipment. The company will provide additional information this Wednesday during its Enterprise Connect keynote event.