In 2020, Microsoft announced Microsoft Teams Rooms to the MS Teams platform to support corporations and users adapting to the hybrid environment that was and continues to be, affected by the global pandemic. Microsoft Teams Rooms was developed to close the difference in the gap between onsite and remote staff meetings in a virtual space. Two years later, the work environment has morphed, demanding sophisticated, realistic, integrated, and interactive capabilities for meeting in the combined spaces of face-to-face and virtual. Microsoft Teams has kept the pace, but more importantly, focused and elevated these experiences for users in combination with ease of use and management. Understanding that users are both onsite and remote, Microsoft has met this challenge through an innovative approach by rethinking and designing Microsoft Teams Rooms. Unlike previous licensing, Teams Rooms licensing is based on the number of devices rather than users. Changing from the previous licensing format, the new Microsoft Teams Rooms licensing offers two forms – the Basic and the Pro. Notably, there are some major differences in the offerings between the plans.
What is a Microsoft Teams Room?
Microsoft Teams Room is a virtual space for staff to meet regardless of their location at the time of the meeting. Microsoft Teams Room facilitates attendees to meet virtually, even if they are on-site in their own office or a board room, offsite in their home or cottage, or a combination of both on-site and off-site. This hybrid meeting environment has challenges, including creating an environment whereby attendees interact as if face-to-face, ease of use, realism, and on-the-fly meetings. Microsoft Teams Rooms eliminates the barriers that exist between places, people, and spaces. It is a splace (space and place) for attendees and participants to inclusively meet, engage, create, collaborate, and be together regardless of their physical location.
What is Microsoft Teams Room Basic Plan?
Previously, Microsoft Teams Room was available in the Basic and Premium Plans. With the introduction of Pro, the former Premium plan is no longer available.
Microsoft Teams Room Basic is just that. The Basic plan will provide small businesses the ability to create hybrid meeting spaces through scheduling, sharing wireless content, and joining meetings. However, if your small business requires assistance in managing core and hybrid meeting features, then the Pro plan is the one that will meet these needs.
Teams Room Basic is included with all certified Teams Rooms devices at no extra charge if purchased before September 1, 2022. For licensing, 25 Basic licenses, or rooms, can be applied by the customer to their tenant.
What is Microsoft Teams Room Pro Plan?
The new Teams Room Pro Plan focuses on ease of usability, security, flexibility, inclusivity, and management while providing a simplified purchasing process for customers. Teams Room Pro offers one license that includes the existing Teams Room features, innovative advancements in hybrid meeting experiences, and the Teams Rooms managed service platform.
Some features are currently available in Teams Room Pro while others will be rolled out in the future. These features include:
Intelligent Video and Audio for Certified Microsoft Teams Devices: Advanced camera capabilities will use AI to capture and automatically frame the active speaker, creating a feeling of being in the room even though the attendee is remote. Video layout options include front row while audio will be high quality with noise suppression and full optimization of bandwidth for smooth streaming;
Increased Engagement: Engaging with ease encourages attendees to participate, especially those who are remote. Interactions like content sharing, raising a hand, and providing live reactions are some of the most popular and well-known features that continue to be accessible for participants. To ensure conversations that happen alongside the meeting are not missed, chat bubbles appear in the classic video grid layout to alert in-room participants;
Powerful Collaboration: With Microsoft Whiteboard, Microsoft Surface Hub 2S, and intelligent capturing of an analog whiteboard, every attendee will have the real-time capabilities to collaborate. Adding a touch display enables multi-user capabilities for sharing the whiteboard while the addition of a content camera provides an augmented and intelligent whiteboard view in Teams meetings;
Management and Security: With hybrid meeting environments, trustworthy, operational, and strongly effective security is mandatory and not an option. Teams Room Pro not only provides essential enterprise-grade security and management but also provides device analytics, access control, remote configuration, and IT service management integration (ITSM). The Teams Rooms managed service platform provides AI-driven operations that detect problems, provide solutions at scale, and provide automatic updates.
Microsoft Teams Rooms Pro: Teams Rooms Managed Services, IT Service Management (ITSM) Integration
In the previous Teams Rooms Premium plan, Microsoft provided a paid service for 24/7 monitoring and management of the room operating system and software with the permission to perform remote action to address any issues or deficiencies. With the new Teams Rooms Pro plan, Microsoft will no longer provide this paid service but instead will enlist partner remediation. Beginning October 1, 2022, all incidences will remediate automatically or route to either the designated management partner of the customer or the customer’s IT department, negating the need for Microsoft engineers to be the intermediary.
Preparing for the Transition to Microsoft Teams Rooms Basic and Pro
The deadlines for the transitions are coming up quickly, and as administrators, these deadlines are outlined in Microsoft’s documentation under “Important” notes.
One detail to be noted is that “legacy licenses” will not automatically transition to the new licenses. When a legacy or older license expires, an organization will have to switch to Basic or Pro, which can be done through the Microsoft 365 Admin Centre Portal. Alternately, licensing for the Teams Rooms Pro plan can be purchased from sales channel partners of Microsoft.
An important detail regarding user licenses used with Teams Rooms devices, as noted in Microsoft’s documentation, will no longer be supported effective July 1, 2023. User licenses will need to be replaced by a Teams Rooms Basic or Teams Rooms Pro license as Teams Rooms licensing is based on the number of rooms, not the number of users. It was also made clear that meeting devices that have a user license will be blocked from signing in until a Teams Rooms license is assigned.
Once again, Microsoft has focused on the Microsoft Teams collaborating app with changes and enhancements that continue to support interactive, real-time, engaging, and collaborative meetings in Microsoft Teams Rooms. Whether it is the Basic or Pro license, organizations will be able to schedule, join, and share content with the Basic license to fully immersed, innovative, collaborative participation with high-definition audio, visual enhancements, multi-user whiteboarding, side-chat bubbles, and live reactions with the Pro license. Whichever plan is implemented, Microsoft Teams Rooms continue to provide an excellent solution as a key method of hosting and delivering meetings regardless of participant location. Seamless and easy to use, Microsoft Teams Rooms transcends barriers and brings together participants who are onsite, remote, or a combination of both into one space as if they are face-to-face for real-time collaboration.