Coronavirus Brings Surge In Microsoft Teams Usage, New Features

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The Microsoft Teams service is reaping the benefit of social distancing, as its usage has risen 40% within the past week in the coronavirus outbreak.

Coronavirus sees surge in Microsoft Teams usage

Between March 11th and yesterday, March 18th, usage on Microsoft's Teams chat service increased from 32 million daily users to 44 million. That is an increase of 12 million users, approximately 37.5%. Teams had an outage on Monday thanks to the platform congestion.

The surge in Microsoft's Teams chat service is due to the coronavirus pandemic. Businesses, schools, and places of employment are sending many employees home for at least two weeks. In some cases, employees are going home for the long-term with no word on when they can return to work. US President Donald Trump is telling the American public to practice social distancing. What this means, in effect, is that citizens should stay home as much as possible and keep themselves busy. With many Americans home longer than they like to be, many are turning to the internet, smartphones, and chat apps to stay in touch with family, friends, and coworkers.

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 3-year anniversary for Teams to bring new features

It is an inconvenience for so many to be home without work and school during this time. And yet, the time couldn't be riper for Microsoft. The company is celebrating Teams' third anniversary by unveiling new service features. The new features to come are 1) real-time noise suppression, 2) a "raise hand" button for questions, 3) offline mode for messages and responses, and 4) pop out chat windows for easy chat switching.

Real-time noise suppression eliminates all sound interruptions in conversation so that users need not worry about opening that bag of chips while on a conference call. A "raise hand" button will help employees ask questions during large business meetings on Microsoft's Teams chat service. The offline mode for messages and responses will allow employees and workers to read messages even in the absence of internet connectivity. Pop out chat windows will make it easy to switch between conversations.

Microsoft Teams prepares employees for the long haul

Earlier this week, the Redmond, Washington-headquartered company closed down its retail stores to send employees and shoppers home. These employees will likely stay in touch by way of Microsoft Teams during the coronavirus pandemic. The company says it intends to pay its employees for the next two weeks. What happens after that, is still up in the air.

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Whether using Microsoft Teams or some other chat service such as Skype, Facebook Messenger, Google Hangouts Meet, and so on, citizens cannot do it without a stable internet connection. 185 companies, including Big Red carrier Verizon Wireless, have signed a pledge called Keep Americans Connected. The pledge moves wireless providers to promise they will keep customers connected despite inability to pay and late bill payments.