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Microsoft Adds "Advanced Communication" License That Teams Users Need On Top of Existing Commercial Licenses to Use Recent Meetings & API Features



At Microsoft Inspire 2020, Microsoft noted that it will be adding a new user license for some select meeting and calling features called "Advanced Communication" license. This license will be additive to existing commercial licenses (like E5).

Some of the types of features that will require the "Advanced Communication" license noted at Inspire 2020 are:

  • Large meetings
  • Customized lobby controls
  • Compliance / policy call recording
  • Etc.
Angela Donohue, in session IDB151 noted the license would be available later this month.

Update: Microsoft has now communicated more granularity[1] on what will be included with the "Advanced Communications" license:


  • Released at launch
    • Live event limits to 20k participant (50 concurrent, 16 hours)
    • Compliance Recording integration (ISV)
    • Contact Center solution integration (ISV)
  • Released later in CY2020
    • 1000 person interactive Teams meeting
    • Interactive meetings for 1000 participants with the capability to enabled up to 20,000 in a 'view only' meeting
    • Custom branded meeting lobby
  • Beyond
    • Additional customizations, tool and communications enhancements will be added to the SKU throughout the calendar year

Some Questions We Had


I had a chance to chat with a person at Microsoft who answered some of my questions related to "Advanced Communications":

Q. Will "Resource Accounts", used to call auto attendants and call queues require the "Advanced Communication" license?
A. No, "Advanced Communication" license is just a user license and resource accounts will not be changed.

Q. Do Teams Apps or Bot require this license?
A. No.

Q. What features will all need the "Advanced Communication" license?
A. [still collecting the exactly list of what features will require the new license...]

Q. Cost?
A. The "Advanced Communication" license will be available on August 1, 2020. A 60-90 day trial license will be available on August 1. All commercial  licenses can have this added to it, and at this time no license includes it. The license will be $12 per user per month. EDU licensing is $2.50 per user per month.

Some Comments on this change


For users who do not need to advanced meeting features, but need compliance recording, the net effect is paying for usage of the Microsoft Graph API's, and in the case of call recording, a license that costs more than call recording vendors typically charge per user. It is also somewhat unusual for Microsoft to charge for using Graph API's. I am not aware of other products like Exchange, SharePoint or Azure charging to use Graph API to interact with a product a user is already licensed for. Also, in the industry, as already noted, vendors like Zoom include REST API's in their lowest tier user pricing. This could seem like Microsoft is not incentivizing ISV's to build their solutions on the Microsoft communication platform, which is almost certainly not the effect Microsoft is wanting to achieve. 

In Conclusion


Covid19 has been putting pressure on Microsoft to add some features. Microsoft Teams has indeed been receiving a tsunami of features recently. It seems the "Advanced Communication" license may be an effort by Microsoft to recoup some of the costs going into adding these features, and question is if this should be passed on to the customer.

[1] Microsoft "Advanced Communication FAQ" 

Microsoft Teams User tip #28: How Does a Teams Recording Handle Switching Between Webcams?



One of the things I've noticed using Microsoft Teams recording is that the recording will not necessary look or sound exactly like what the meeting organizer saw.

One of the items I noticed today is around switching webcams. When you switch between webcams you will can a momentary blank/black screen. By momentary, I should clarifying that this actually can take some time. Then the new webcam will start presenting.

The interesting thing is that the recording handles this slightly different. In recording the webcam image will freeze until the next camera starts.

In my opinion its really nice that you can switch between webcams so easily using native Microsoft Teams switching capability. In normal scenarios switching between webcams only happens to those with way too much hardware plugged into their PCs, but its good to know what effect switching will have on a recording.

If you want the switching on the recording to happen more smoothly, take a look at using OBS Studio  & webcam driver.

How Microsoft Teams Calls App for Slack Works




Slack and Microsoft Teams have surprised industry watchers by adding a "Microsoft Teams Calls" Slack app. A question is: How does this work? Let's install and see.

Setup


First you will need a Slack and Teams account. Sign into Slack and go to: https://slack.com/app-pages/teams-calls. Click "Add to Slack"


Now you will get a Slack permission. Next Teams/Microsoft permissions.



Create & Join Meetings



In essence you will now have a "/teams-calls" bot in Slack that you can create a meeting in any Slack channel. Using the Join button others in the Slack channel can join the meeting.

From my test the time "Meeting started xx ago." is when the meeting was created. The only user that shows for me is the user that created the meeting. If more people join the meeting, the do not show up in the bot post in the channel.

The below example was created 10 minutes ago. I joined the meeting 5 minutes ago. And another user joined after that, but does not show in the channel link to the meeting.


Calls


Slack has a call button at the top of the screen. It looks you can set this call button to use Microsoft Teams. I suspect this will use the protocol handler to dial a call using Microsoft Teams (similar to how Outlook and web pages dial from Teams) but I could not find where to configure this feature.

Jump Into Scheduled Meetings


This looks like Slack reminders will surface Outlook Teams Meeting Join info.

Summary


From what I can see, this Slack app allows meetings and calling to be initiated from Slack if a user has a Teams account.



COVID19 Progress Tracking


The above chart track the raw number of confirmed cases based on John Hopkins report.


The above chart tracks the percent of country population of confirmed cases.




To see the up to date spreadsheet: Click Here

Microsoft Changes Microsoft Teams Compliance Recording API Name to "Policy Recording"


Its interesting to note that Microsoft has changed the name of the Microsoft Teams "Compliance Recording" API to "Policy Recording" to more accurately describe what it does. This name change was noticed on Github as shown below.



I find this an interesting and good move as Landis Technologies has developed a Microsoft Teams Call Recording solution using the "Policy Recording" API's (formerly Compliance Recording) for convenience and customer service scenarios. (We are not focusing on compliance recording scenarios at this time.) You can see a demo of the Landis Call Recording for Microsoft Teams here.



A few nice things that the Policy Recording api's allow in Landis Call Recording for Microsoft Teams:

  • Any peer to peer call can be recorded (PSTN, p2p or Meetings) for a user with the policy enabled
  • The recording happens no matter what client the Teams users is using
  • There is a notification banner in the Teams client that call recording is happening
  • Using our agent the user can pause recording or stop recording if Landis Call Recording policy allows that.
Summary

I think this name change is a good move as it more accurately reflects the breadth of what the "Policy Recording" apis/ hooks can do.


Source:
https://github.com/microsoftgraph/microsoft-graph-comms-samples/pull/188

Landis Call Recording for Microsoft Teams on Appsource:
https://appsource.microsoft.com/en-us/product/web-apps/landis-technologies.landis-call-recording?tab=Overview

Demonstration of Landis Call Recording:
https://www.landiscomputer.com/landis-demonstrates-microsoft-teams-customer-service-call-recording-powered-by-the-new-compliance-recording-api/