ignite2020

Microsoft Teams Devices roundup from Microsoft Ignite 2020

Wow, what a whirlwind of a few days at the virtual Microsoft Ignite event this year. Here is the Microsoft Teams Devices roundup from Ignite 2020..

Meeting Room Devices

This was probably one of the biggest announcements, the Collaboration Bars and Microsoft Teams Rooms (MTR) are merging. We knew from the public roadmap that there were going to become closely matched. Let’s take a look at where we are today with the collaboration bars and MTRs in the table below. The collaboration bars are designed for small/focus/huddle rooms. The MTRs are designed for Small, Medium, Large and custom rooms.

Features as of September 2020Collaboration BarMicrosoft Teams Room
Operating SystemAndroid 9.xWindows 10 Enterprise
Supported DisplaysOneTwo
Maximum Video Resolution720p1080p
Skype for Business SupportNoYes
Guest Join Access (Webex/Zoom)NoYes
Meet NowYesYes
Whiteboard SupportYesYes
Content Camera (Magic Whiteboard)NoYes
HDMI Content InputNoYes
Raise HandYesYes
Pin VideoNoYes
One Touch Join Scheduled MeetingsYesYes
Proximity Join (Bluetooth)YesYes
USB Connectivity of cameras/audioNoYes
Centre of Room ConsoleBasicAdvanced
Teams Admin Centre ManagementYesYes
3×3 Gallery LayoutNoYes (rolling out in rings)
Coordinated MeetingsNoYes
Collaboration Bars vs MTRs 2020

What we do know, both are now called Microsoft Teams Room. How they will be differentiated is MTR on Android (MTRoA) and MTR on Windows (MTRoW). It will be down the organisation to decide what their preferred platform of choice is, in terms of management In terms of the roadmap, to bring feature parity between the two MTR platforms, this is what we know. I’ve highlighted in bold what the changes are. There are a few items which are only on MTR on Windows for now, and they are Guest Join Access for Webex and Zoom Meetings, USB and IP Based connectivity of Peripherals.

Features planned for 2020/2021Microsoft Teams Room on AndroidMicrosoft Teams Room on Windows
Operating SystemAndroid 9.xWindows 10 Enterprise
Supported DisplaysTwoTwo
Maximum Video Resolution1080p1080p
Skype for Business SupportNoYes
Guest Join Access (Webex/Zoom)NoYes
Meet NowYesYes
Whiteboard SupportYesYes
Content Camera (Magic Whiteboard)NoYes
HDMI Content InputYesYes
Raise HandYesYes
Pin VideoYesYes
One Touch Join Scheduled MeetingsYesYes
Proximity Join (Bluetooth)YesYes
USB Connectivity of cameras/audioNoYes
Centre of Room ConsoleAdvancedAdvanced
Teams Admin Centre ManagementYesYes
3×3 Gallery LayoutYesYes
Personal ModeYesNo
Room Remote from personal deviceYesYes
Cortana SupportYesYes
Wireless CastingYesYes
Meeting Room Capacity Notifications??Yes
IP Based Audio and Video Peripherals NoYes
Large Gallery and Together ModeYesYes
Collaboration Bars vs MTRs 2021

MTR on Android

Even though the feature parity gap will close, there will still be some subtle differences. Take the centre of room console for example. On a Windows based device, this is 1280×800 resolution and can fit everything on it. On the Android device, the screen is smaller, so many options will be under the … menu button. Maybe this will change when it hits general availability.

MTR on Android with advanced control features

Another thing I did notice on the demo of the MTR on Android console is that it had more than three meetings. That is the limit on the MTR on Windows today. Maybe this will get rolled out across all devices.

In summary, the MTRfA will be provided by the following vendors, some are new to this space too. Audiocodes RX80 will be a new device developed in partnership with Dolby. I’ve seen the Dolby camera before and it’s quite impressive when I tested it in open SIP mode. Let’s hope it has all these features when in MTR mode. Next up in terms of new devices is the Yealink A20. This new device has an electronic privacy shutter and comes with a push button remote. There will be an option to have the Centre of Room touch panel too. Yealink still have the VC210, my guess is that this will be the lower end of the MTRfA device, maybe for home workers.

The next vendor in this space is Poly with their X30 and X50 which are already available. What is new from Poly will be the G7500 will get Microsoft Teams certification. None of the dates for these new devices and vendors have been confirmed.

MTR on Android with 3×3 Layout

MTR on Windows

Lenovo used this week to launch their new ThinkSmart Hub. This is will replace the Hub 500 device. It has a smaller screen than the Hub 500, now a 10.1″ screen, a single cable to the console and it now has 360 degree rotating panel. Here is my review of the original Hub 500. This new device will start shipping from October 2020 with a price from $1,799, although I’ve also seen $1,899 listed.

Lenovo Thinksmart Hub
Lenovo ThinkSmart Hub

Yealink also recently announced their Gen II of their MTRfW devices. A new NUC, single network cable for the centre of room console and a new mounting bracket for the NUC. Randy Chapman has done a good overview of these new devices here.

Poly also announced their G series of devices, which are MTRfW, G10, G40 and G85 a few months ago.

Surface Hubs

One of the big announcements from Ignite was the launch of the forthcoming larger Surface Hub 2 85″ display. This comes with a $21,999 price tag, so not designed for every space. Other updates to the Surface Hub 2 was the announcement of Windows 10 Team edition, but also enterprises can choose to deploy Windows 10 Pro or Enterprise on the devices. The device will start shipping in January 2021. Full details here.

Image of Surface Hub 2 devices (picture from Microsoft Tech Community Site)

Intelligent Speakers

Intelligent Speakers are a new category of devices and Yealink and Epos are the first vendors to bring this out. It will have an initial digital identity of you, and when you are speaking during a meeting, it knows who is speaking. I wonder if these devices will only be for MTRfW or will they be compatible with MTRfA? How do they connect to the MTR? IP over the network or USB? A few things that will be revealed nearer launch I guess.

Intelligent Speakers

Cloud Video Interop (CVI)

This was released without any fan fair or party poppers. Cisco was announced as a CVI partner at Ignite 2019. Roll on Ignite 2020 and it’s finally released. Full details are here on the Cisco site. It does the similar task of BlueJeans, Pexip and Poly who have been doing CVI for two years. Not much to say other than you need your VTCs on a Webex subscription and then pay for the CVI service.

Also announced this week are some improvements to the BlueJeans Gateway service. The latest updates include large event support; localised interactive voice response (IVR); 7×7 Gallery view; enhanced management; improved visibility, as well as simplified deployment.

Microsoft Teams Panel

This is a brand new category of devices. They will be initially launched by Crestron and Yealink. The GA date for these is scheduled for March 2021 as per the roadmap. What’s the point of these? Well many organisations use these devices to show room booking information and guidance if rooms are free or busy. Users can book the room if free, or they can use the Nearby Rooms feature to find the next available room. What is really cool with these devices, when the Teams Panel is paired with a MTR, it will pick up the room count information and can indicate if the room is full, so you can visually see from a distance, meaning you don’t have to walk down the corridor only to find out the room is full once you get there. A great time saving feature.

The Crestron panel will be available in either a 7″ or 10″ version and the hardware will be available later in 2020, so you could plan to use them now with just Microsoft Exchange connectivity and then upgrade the software to have the Teams panel software.

Microsoft Teams Panel by Crestron

You can book nearby rooms simply by tapping the icon and it will show you free/busy rooms.

Nearby Room options

Once you’ve selected the room, you can book it there and then. This saves time from heading the proposed room, only to find someone else beat you to the room booking.

Booking a nearby room

Management of Meeting Rooms

Teams Admin Center (TAC) is the go to device management tool for all your Microsoft Teams devices. With your $15 MTR license, this provides you access. Previously launched at Ignite in 2019, Managed Meeting Rooms (MMR) was introduced. This has now evolved and is called MTR Premium (MTRP). Same great service, full 24×7 management of the devices. You don’t need to enrol all your MTRs into the portal, you can just select maybe the high profile ones. The cost of MTR Premium us $50 per room per month but includes the room license, so the net cost is really $35. What is interesting now is how will MTRP manage the MTR on Android devices? As the MTRP install an agent on the Windows 10 device, they’ll have to develop one for Android I guess. More info when we hear more I guess.

If you want a deep dive overview of the portals, here is a session from Ignite.

Consumption of Devices

Microsoft also announced Device as a Service which will launch in the US and Canada at first. So any device will be able to be purchased on a subscription basis.

Device as a Service

Next up is the annual Ignite discount, however this is US only. You can claim 20% off your devices when buying through the Microsoft store at aka.ms/teamsdevices. Just use the code Ignite20

20% off at Microsoft Ignite

Deploying MTRs

Deploy two Microsoft Teams Rooms at no additional charge

To help you get started with transforming your meetings rooms, Microsoft, with support from specialised meeting room partners, can help qualifying customers deploy two Microsoft Teams Rooms at no additional charge. Learn more.

Microsoft Teams Rooms soon to be part of FastTrack

Beginning October 1, 2020, Teams Rooms will be added to the FastTrack benefit, where qualified customers can get remote guided assistance on select rooms at no additional charge.

Microsoft Teams Personal Devices

The personal devices category is also getting a good update, non Team phones will be able to use a gateway Microsoft is building. Native Teams phones have a lot of new features as listed below.

Microsoft Teams Phones – Features being released in 2020
Support for SfB and SIP Phones

There will also be a new category of phone. Who remembers the Polycom CX300, a USB connected device for Lync? Well they are back in the form of three different vendors

Affordable Teams Devices based on USB

Teams Ambient Devices

The Teams Display is not far off from being released, especially for the Lenovo ThinkSmart View. This device is already available as a phone device and will just need a software update to get the full Microsoft Teams Display functionality. Again, another category I’m looking forward to using, as I love a dedicated video device for my meetings. This is really a companion to your laptop and can use Cortana for handsfree operation. It also has Better Together mode, so again, it’s your companion device for use everyday.

Microsoft Teams Displays

Check out the demo from Arash Ghanaie-Sichanie at Microsoft

Finally, in this category of Teams devices, we have the Crestron MM30-TA/MTRfW available too. I use this device as my daily driver for audio now. Great quality from a small compact device.

MM30-TA
Crestron MM30-TA

Thanks for reading, let me know of any questions or comments below.

We’ll also have a full recap at the next MTRAMA with Microsoft product managers in attendance. Feel free to register and join us.

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