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Microsoft Teams Announces Together Mode, Custom Backgrounds & Breakout Rooms For Virtual Holiday Parties

Microsoft Teams Together mode. (Image Credit: Microsoft)

Microsoft Teams Together mode. (Image Credit: Microsoft)

Microsoft Teams has brought in a couple of holiday-themed features along with a Breakout Rooms feature that breaks meetings into small sub-meetings to avoid clutter.

With the holiday season just around the corner, Microsoft has thought of those who are working from home and missing out on all the office parties. Microsoft Teams is introducing new holiday-themed Together mode scenes and custom backgrounds for users during the Christmas-New Year holidays. Further, Microsoft is also announcing the availability of breakout rooms, which make it easy to interact during a virtual holiday party, and sharing tips for making virtual holiday gatherings more fun virtually.

The new Together mode in Microsoft Teams reimagines meeting experiences to bring people closer together even when they're apart. Microsoft says that back and forth conversations feel more natural and the company's research shows that Together mode reduces meeting fatigue. Further, the company has included 'winter wonderland' Together mode scenes that "add a dash of the holiday spirit that's perfect for hosting a virtual holiday party with your team." In addition to new Holiday scenes, Microsoft also announced the availability of Together mode scenes, which is rolling out immediately. The Together mode scenes can be used at any time of the year and can display team meetings in different kind of settings like a coffee shop, a classroom and more. Users can use Together mode from the drop-down menu inside a Microsoft Teams meeting. A small pencil icon in the left hand corner of the screen appears, which allows users to choose a scene. Together mode requires at least five participants in a meeting.

Apart from Together mode, Microsoft Teams is also bringing in holiday-themed custom backgrounds for standard meetings and video calls. In order to add a new custom background, users need to simply download them from the Microsoft Teams background database. Then, while they are setting up their video and audio before joining a meeting, they can simply go to Background Effects > Add New, and then select the downloaded background from their computer.

Breakout Rooms, on the other hand make it easier for users to divide their meetings into sub-groups to facilitate smaller discussions. Organisers can jump between meetings on their own, deliver announcements to all breakout rooms at once, and bring everyone back to the main meeting at any time. Further Breakout rooms can be initiated both in Microsoft Teams channels and in Microsoft Teams meetings to give users the flexibility on how they want to meet.