Microsoft Reduces App-Switching in Teams with Visio Support

Need to edit a Visio file? Users of the Microsoft Teams app can now collaboratively modify Visio diagrams without leaving the app.

Microsoft Teams

Microsoft continues to pile new features and application integrations onto Teams, transforming the chat-based group collaboration app into a workplace productivity hub.

Recently, the software maker added the Direct Routing feature that allows businesses to extend telephony capabilities to Teams so users can make and receive calls while working with the software.

The Teams app is also now available to Microsoft's U.S. Government Cloud customers. Since Microsoft's government cloud services are subject to tough accountability and security standards, the availability of certain products in government agencies oftentimes lags behind their commercial counterparts.

Now Teams users are gaining the ability to modify Visio diagrams without having to switch apps.

"You can now view, edit, and collaborate on your Visio diagrams directly inside Microsoft Teams. Simply upload a Visio diagram to a channel's conversation tab to share with your team," stated Microsoft product marketing manager Keara James in a July 3 blog post.

"You and your colleagues can then alter the diagram from directly inside Teams and engage in conversations within the file to encourage input from all stakeholders," James stated.

Microsoft's popular diagramming tool has seen a number of updates before its integration with Teams. In August 2017, the company introduced a Power BI integration that turns Visio diagrams into interactive visualizations. A couple of months later, Microsoft officially released the browser-based version of the software, Visio Online, ending a public beta that began in late 2016.

The Office 365 app launcher, also referred to as "the waffle" for its icon's waffle-like arrangement of dots, is now available in the Teams web-based client. This enables users to quickly access other Office applications, including Outlook and Word.

For developers building bots for the platform, Microsoft made good on a promise the company made during this year's Build developer conference to add the ability to send and receive files. Limited to one-on-one chats with users, this capability opens up new content and document management scenarios, such as submitting expense reports.

Keeping track of Teams' growing list of keyboard shortcuts can be a challenge for busy users. To help, Microsoft has gathered them into a view that can be quickly accessed by pressing Ctrl+ in Windows or Command+ in macOS or by typing "/keys" (minus quotes) into the command bar.

In a bid to reduce clutter within the Outlook interface, teams or groups created in Microsoft Teams no longer show up in the email client's Global Address Book. However, Outlook groups that were later converted to teams remain visible and will continue to show up in the To: field when users draft an email.

Inactive teams can now be archived so they are accessible if organizations need to consult the information contained in those conversations or reactivate them in the future. Microsoft Teams also supports eDiscovery in both cloud-based and hybrid Exchange implementations, allowing companies to fulfill legal requests for information stored on the platform.

On the mobile front, dropping in and out of a cellular network's reach will be less of a struggle for users.

The Teams mobile app has been reworked to ensure that offline messages are reliably sent after network conditions improve. The app also includes new battery and bandwidth operations that help users make the most of their time between charges and data plans.

Finally, Microsoft is stretching the app's boundaries beyond the confines of smartphone, tablet and PC displays. A new Teams app for the mammoth Surface Hub conference room display system is now available in preview, complete with support for up to four live video conferencing streams.

Pedro Hernandez

Pedro Hernandez

Pedro Hernandez is a contributor to eWEEK and the IT Business Edge Network, the network for technology professionals. Previously, he served as a managing editor for the network of...