Microsoft Teams will collaboratively edit Excel Spreadsheets

Microsoft is getting Excel directly into Teams meetings. Excel Live is a new model for Teams meeting participants to edit Excel spreadsheets in real-time.

It’s the role of a trio of new features coming to Teams that continue Microsoft’s focus on hybrid work.

Teams also get video clips that can be shared in chats and collaborative annotations that let colleagues doodle on top of content during Teams meetings. Finally, teams are also getting real-time collaborative annotations.

Excel Live is a component of Microsoft’s Live Share functionality in Microsoft Teams that the company documented earlier this year. “What it does is it authorizes you in a Teams meeting to edit a workbook live in real-time, right in that meeting stage itself,” explains Nicole Herskowitz, vice president of Microsoft Teams. “People can jump in and begin editing an Excel workbook and never have to go to the meeting screen.”

You don’t need Excel installed or running on a device; you can set specific permissions or use features like tracking transitions as you would in a regular version of Excel. “This is using full Excel,” states Herskowitz. “Excel Live is created on top of our Fluid Framework, allowing this kind of experience.”

This neat integration of Excel should reach sometime in August, and it will complete a new collaborative annotations feature in Teams that launches today. Collaborative annotations allow all meeting participants to draw, type, or react on top of any content shared in a meeting. It’s essentially the identical tools you’d encounter in Microsoft’s Whiteboard app, but you don’t have to launch a different experience or import content to start annotating. Instead, you can doodle, type, or pin notes inside Microsoft Teams presentations.

You can highlight things, place Post-it notes on the screen, or doodle everywhere. “It allows those whiteboard-rich experiences on any screen,” explains Herskowitz. “It makes any space more collaborative.” Collaborative annotations are temporary, so they live only inside a Teams meeting. “Right now, there are no exporting capabilities, so you’d presumably take a picture or a screenshot to keep that for future reference,” says Herskowitz.

The last significant addition to Microsoft Teams is Video Clip. This new feature lets anyone record and sends short video clips in a Teams chat. It’s essentially a video voicemail and very similar to the video clips that Slack launched last year. Video clips can be up to a minute long and are ideal for asynchronous communication where you might have a colleague in a different time zone and want to leave them a video message.

Microsoft Teams Features

Chats: Teams allow users to communicate through chats. Unlike Skype for Business, discussions in Teams are persistent, so users do not have to check a conversation history. Teams allow users to format text and use emojis during chats. In addition, users can choose to mark a message as urgent or essential. Vital messages show up with a red side.

Teams: Teams authorize communities, groups, or teams to merge through a specific URL or invitation sent by a team administrator or owner. Teams for Education will enable admins and teachers to set up special sections for classes, professional learning communities (PLCs), staff members, and everyone.

Channels: Members can set up channels. Channels are subjects of conversation that allow team members to communicate without email or group SMS. Instead, users can reply to posts with text, images, GIFs, and custom-made image macros. Direct messages let users send private messages to a typical user rather than a group of people. Connectors are third-party services that can offer information to the channel. Connectors include Facebook Pages, Twitter, MailChimp, PowerBI, and Bing News.

Group conversations: Ad-hoc groups can be built to share instant messaging, audio calls (VoIP), and video calls inside the client software.

Telephone replacement: Teams support connectivity to the public switched telephone network telephone system called “calls,” allowing a user to operate teams as if it were a telephone, with several individuals who can call and call numbers.

Meeting: Meetings can be planned or created ad hoc, and users visiting the channel can see that a meeting is currently in progress. Teams also have a plugin for Microsoft Outlook to invite others into a Teams meeting. It supports thousands of users that can connect via a meeting link.

Teams Live Events: Teams Live Events substitutes Skype Meeting Broadcast with the ability for users to broadcast to 10,000 players on Yammer, Teams, or Microsoft Stream.

Breakout Rooms: Breakout rooms let users split a meeting into small groups. Users can trigger this feature during or before a meeting.

Front Row: Front Row authorizes participants to adjust the layout of the meeting, setting the speaker or content in the epicenter of the gallery with the participant video feed at the base.

Education: Microsoft Teams permits teachers to distribute, furnish feedback, and grade student assignments through Teams using the Assignments tab, known to Office 365 for Education subscribers. Quizzes can also be assigned to students via integration with Office Forms.

Protocols: Microsoft Teams is based on several Microsoft-specific protocols. Video conferences are recognized over the protocol MNP24, known from the Skype consumer rendition. The protocol MS-SIP from Skype for Enterprise is not employed anymore to connect Teams customers. VoIP and video conference customers based on SIP and H.323 require unique gateways to connect to Microsoft Teams servers. With the help of the Interactive Connectivity Establishment (ICE), clients behind Network address translation routers and restrictive firewalls can also connect if peer-to-peer is not possible.

Integrations: Microsoft Teams keeps hundreds of integrations available through Microsoft AppSource, its integration marketplace. In 2020, Microsoft associated with KUDO, a cloud-based language interpretation solution, to offer integrated language meeting controls. In June 2022, an update was released employing AI to improve call audio by eliminating background feedback loops and canceling non-vocal audio.