Microsoft Teams calls will be end-to-end encrypted soon, PowerPoint integration and new presenter tools also incoming

By: |
March 3, 2021 5:13 PM

At present, the meetings held over Microsoft Teams are not protected by end-to-end encryption.

Microsoft also announced a slew of different features to make Teams more suitable for users.

Microsoft Teams: End-to-end encryption support to come to Microsoft Teams! After a long wait, tech giant Microsoft has finally announced end-to-end encryption support for Teams, its video conferencing platform. The feature would be incorporated later this year, but a preview would be available for commercial customers of the platform in the first half of 2021 itself. The preview would be meant for one-on-one unscheduled calls on Teams, aimed at protecting conversations that are sensitive in nature, like confidential interactions between co-workers or sharing of password by the IT team with the employee over the call. Over due course, however, Microsoft is looking at expanding the feature to online meetings as well as scheduled calls.

At present, the meetings held over Microsoft Teams are not protected by end-to-end encryption, while the data is encrypted in transit as well as at rest allowing decryption of the content by authorised services for the purpose of data retention record. At present, at-rest files are protected by Microsoft using SharePoint encryption. On the other hand, notes stored in Microsoft Teams are made secure using OneNote encryption. In-transit and at-rest encryption is also ensured for all the chat content on Teams.

Slack, which Microsoft considers the biggest competitor for Teams, also does not have end-to-end encryption in place, while Zoom, which made use of the initial wave of video calling during the lockdown to become popular, began the implementation of this encryption technology in October last year.

PowerPoint integration into Microsoft Teams

Along with the end-to-end encryption, Microsoft also announced a slew of different features to make Teams more suitable for users, with the first of the features being that it would now allow up to 1,000 attendees in a meeting from inside as well as outside the organisation, making it a suitable webinar platform. To support this, Redmond would also give more control to the host, including disabling video and chat options for attendees. Not only that, but in case the host wants to include even more attendees in a webinar-type meeting, Teams would now switch into a view-only mode for broadcast, where 10,000 people would be able to join. By the end of June this year, Microsoft is hoping to increase this figure to 20,000.

A major feature that has been added to Teams, however, is the integration of Microsoft PowerPoint with the video conferencing platform. PowerPoint Live has now been available on Teams, which allows a presenter to see their content, meeting participants, chat, as well as their own personal notes all on a single screen. More importantly, it would also allow users to navigate on the presentation privately at their own pace, while the presenter can proceed at the pace they feel comfortable.

A Presenter feature is also being added to Teams, allowing presenters to choose out of three modes while making a presentation. Standout mode would present their video feed upfront and centre, over the presentation’s content, while side-by-side mode would make the presentation as well as the presenter’s video feed appear beside each other. The third mode is the reporter mode, wherein the content would appear above the shoulder of the presenter as a visual aid, much like what happens during news segments. The Presenter feature would be launched in March 2021 itself, with standout mode, but the reporter and side-by-side modes would be launched in some time.

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