Skype Room Systems Rebranded as 'Microsoft Teams Rooms'
Microsoft on Wednesday announced the rebranding of its Skype Room Systems product line of partner-built videoconferencing and meeting room devices, which are now called "Microsoft Teams Rooms."
A list of "room systems" by Microsoft still currently shows products bearing the old "SRS" brand. Partners that have built Skype Room Systems include Crestron, HP, Lenovo, Logitech and Polycom. Possibly, new Microsoft Teams Rooms devices from these vendors will get further described at the Integrated Systems Europe event coming next month -- at least, Microsoft's announcement suggested as much.
The rebranding isn't just a name change but will be associated with the addition of some new features in coming Microsoft Teams Rooms devices.
For instance, one new feature will permit meetings to be started via a single touch (a so-called "One Touch Join" feature) to the room's console device. Another addition, based on the Microsoft Teams client for PCs, will add the ability to detect open conference spaces. This detection capability also will be available later for mobile devices, Microsoft promised. The Teams Meeting button will get an "Add a Room" enhancement. It'll be an easier way to link conferencing room facilities for a meeting. Support for rooms with dual screens is also promised.
Microsoft Teams Rooms Upgrade
Microsoft has already upgraded 2,435 conference rooms at its Seattle facilities to use Microsoft Teams Rooms devices, according to a Jan. 14 announcement. The upgrade gives employees a single way to join meetings, regardless of the device they use, according to Microsoft.
The use of Microsoft Teams Rooms devices in the Seattle facilities also has resulted in fewer help-desk requests, cutting them in half, according to Matt Hempey of Microsoft's core services engineering and operations team. The team now gets alerted to problems "before our users see it," he added.
In addition, updates to Microsoft Teams Rooms devices in facilities will happen all "at once," according Microsoft's Jan. 14 announcement, rather than room by room. It's considered to be a benefit for troubleshooting Microsoft Teams Rooms devices.
Teams Migration Guidance
In related news, Microsoft on Tuesday indicated that it has updated its FastTrack "online guidance" for carrying out moves from Skype for Business to Teams. However, to benefit from the FastTrack partner advisory program, an organization needs to have bought "at least 150 licenses" from qualified Microsoft 365 plans, as described in this Microsoft document.
Other guidance enhancements include:
Microsoft has been encouraging organizations to move toward using Teams over Skype for Business, although the two solutions can coexist. Last August, Microsoft declared that Teams can now serve as a Skype for Business replacement.
However, feature parity between the two collaboration solutions is still an ongoing process. Moreover, Microsoft ultimately may not support adding some of the less popular Skype for Business features to Teams.
Migrations to Teams is a fairly complex consideration for organizations. For instance, an organization planning a move from Skype for Business has to consider which "coexistence mode" they are using, which affects how certain collaboration features are available via client devices. In November, Microsoft added "presence" support based on the coexistence mode used by organizations.
The complexity of making the move to Teams can be gleaned from Microsoft's FAQ document on the topic. The FAQ casually mentioned that "new Office 365 customers with fewer than 500 seats will be onboarded to Teams and will not have access to Skype for Business Online," which is a policy that took effect back on Oct. 1, 2018.
Kurt Mackie is senior news producer for 1105 Media's Converge360 group.