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Microsoft Teams Rooms Devices Get New Subscription and Management Options

Microsoft last week described the addition of two monthly subscription-based options for organizations using Microsoft Teams Rooms videoconferencing devices, and it described a few management portal updates.

There are new Standard and Premium subscription options for keeping Microsoft Teams Rooms products patched and trouble-free. On the management side, all Microsoft Teams Rooms devices, "including collaboration bars, IP phones and more," can now be managed from the Teams Admin Center portal, which apparently starts with version 4.5.35.0, released on July 23, per a "Release Notes" document.

Subscription Options
Microsoft Teams Rooms are partner-built videoconferencing devices that were formerly called "Skype Room Systems," offering access to video meetings, voice-over-IP, presence and chat functions. These devices lack access to white-boarding and Office applications, which Microsoft offers via its own Surface Hub videoconferencing hardware product line.

Apparently, Microsoft Teams Rooms have needed some management and other capabilities that Microsoft is now packaging with its two new subscription options.

The Standard subscription for Microsoft Teams Rooms, priced at $15 per device per month, provides the licensing to use the Microsoft Teams collaboration service, Microsoft Endpoint Manager Intune for device management, as well as the Phone System and Audio Conferencing capabilities. Under this subscription plan, IT pros are responsible for the device and service monitoring, including patching. The Phone System service is a private branch exchange replacement solution for connecting voice-over-IP phone calls, per a Microsoft document description. The Audio Conferencing service permits meeting participants to connect using their phones, rather than a Teams client, according to another Microsoft document.

The Premium subscription for Microsoft Teams Rooms, priced at $50 per device per month, dispenses with IT pros needing to manage updates and monitor service quality. Microsoft takes over those functions remotely.

"Microsoft provides 24/7 management and monitoring of your room operating system and software, surfacing insights and alerts around any action needed on-site and taking remote action on your behalf as permitted," Microsoft's announcement indicated regarding the Premium offering.

The Premium offering also includes device setup and some on-site support, according to another Microsoft announcement. Apparently, Microsoft is enlisting its partners for the on-site support. There's also an integration with ServiceNow for trouble ticketing. Organizations need to have a supported device and be in a region where it's available to use the Premium option. Those nuances are described in a FAQ at this Premium subscription landing page.

Teams Admin Center Device Management
Microsoft is billing the Teams Admin Center as "the admin's single portal to manage all their Team devices and ensure they are always up to date and ready for use." It shows device health status, as well as call quality information over the last seven days. Actions to take get flagged and there's some drill-down capability into problems. The portal even will show if a peripheral device, such as a camera, is disconnected.

Microsoft added the ability for IT pros to "automatically update phones and collaboration bars," which apparently was a manual process before with the Teams Admin Center portal. Bulk actions can now be applied across devices using the updated portal. There's a new tagging capability that lets IT pros group devices for certain tasks.

If wanted, organizations can "delegate administration through Partner Center, so that partners can administer and manage the devices on the organization's behalf," using the Teams Admin Center. There are "dozens of partners" trained to help, Microsoft's announcement indicated.

Other Microsoft Teams Tidbits
The big-ticket Teams item announced last week was the integration of the Power Platform into the Microsoft Teams collaboration service. It signifies a new direction for low-code business app development. A few other Teams items were announced last week, as well.

For instance, later this year, developers of Teams app extensions will be able to include meetings, rather than just chats, in their solutions, according to a Teams apps announcement. There's also a coming "roles API" that will let developers specify user details, such as "presenter, attendee, guest," in their solutions. Developers also will get better control over the app panel used for meetings, plus certain platform capabilities, such as Adaptive Cards. Microsoft's announcement noted that "Polly, Open Agora, Miro, iCIMS, and HireVue are integrating these new capabilities in their Teams apps at the time of our anticipated general availability launch later this year."

Microsoft also announced that a preview of its Walkie Talkie push-to-talk feature is now available on Android-based Teams apps as part of some new "firstline worker" support capabilities. Walkie Talkie-supported devices are made by BlueParrott, Klein Electronics and Samsung. Also, Yammer Communities is now available in Teams mobile apps.

The Microsoft Teams Admin Center now has predefined policies, called "Firstline Worker" and "Firstline Manager," for IT pros. Microsoft Shifts, used to schedule employees, now has an audit logs capability for IT pros, which has reached "general availability."

Another firstline worker capability is the ability to send custom "praise badges" (a graphic icon with praise text) to employees, which will be coming "later this summer." Later this year, Microsoft Shifts will get the ability to show scheduling conflicts by sending alerts to managers. Microsoft also is working on a future "Task publishing" capability to send tasks to firstline-worker teams. For those organizations keeping track of licensing details, Microsoft redefined firstline workers devices in its June Product Terms, as explained in this Licensing School announcement.

Also, Microsoft's Communication Compliance service, commercially released back in February, is getting integrated into Microsoft Teams, per an announcement. The solution, used for policing employee communications in organizations, will preview for Teams "in the coming weeks." The Communication Compliance service also got some improvements, including an ability to specify administrative roles for management and an improved machine learning capability to detect abusive behaviors. Using it will require having Microsoft 365 E5 licensing.

About the Author

Kurt Mackie is senior news producer for 1105 Media's Converge360 group.

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