Teams Calling: Reviewing your new phone

On Monday Microsoft announced that full calling capability is coming soon to Microsoft Teams, and will eventually replace Skype for Business Online. For people that utilise Microsoft’s CloudPBX (now called Microsoft Phone System) Teams will become their everyday phone, with the benefit of some screen grabs from the demo, lets take a look at it.

Teams Calling Tab

First up, Teams is always just a bigger window that Skype for Business, allowing much more space to lay things out. For me this is more appealing, it’s like using a nice executive phone, gives confidence that you can find and use the features.

I guess the dial pad’s main function is to remind you it’s a phone, it would be a little odd to type out a number with it, perhaps in the USA it’s still a thing to have phonewords like 1–800-THRIFTY so the letters are there too.

Speed Dial is new and very nice, pinning your most common people or numbers so you can call then with one click. Skype used to make this hard, when you had people in your favourites you have to hover over the profile, then click down on the phone icon and choose Skype call. Just having a clean simple, card with picture is a great step up and use of the larger space.

Switching to call history doesn’t remove you from the dial pad, gone are the All, Missed and Calls tabs in Skype, just one simple chronological list. The ellipsis (…) allows you to call them back. Surely this could have been a button on each row, saving a trip into the unlabelled menu?

Voicemail is perhaps the highlight, making that right column really work well, each message is folded, when clicked to open down drops an audio player with handy speed adjustment, next to the transcription of the message.

Teams is bringing many simple refinements to the calling experience, it’s not trying to be a floating window like Skype, you are expected to by using Teams as your cockpit already for chat, tabs, plans, OneNote and so on. That new space means that simple telephony features are more easy to find. Telephony has a long history of having features that people don’t use, I think Teams is on a great track to make this area better for all it’s users.

If you want to see it in action (and where I took the screenshots!) check out the session from Ignite Microsoft 365: Transform your communications with Microsoft Teams and Skype for Business, it’s worth watching it all, but the calling demo starts at about 15 minutes in.