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How Microsoft Teams Works

Microsoft Teams is a very useful tool for companies and work groups: here’s how to organize meetings, send reactions, schedule appointments on the Calendar, and much more. Microsoft Teams is a video conferencing program that often integrates with other Office suite software and apps. It allows you to bring users together in Chat or channels and offers them the ability to schedule meetings and appointments on a shared calendar. The history of Teams is much more troubled than one might imagine. For a while, the program even threatened not to see the light. Microsoft seemed interested in purchasing another instant messaging and video conferencing tool called Slack. 

Anyone who doesn’t know how Teams works should first download it from Microsoft’s official site. Then register and start observing the fundamental aspects of its operation. With Teams, it is possible to start a videoconference immediately after clicking on “Login”: it can be generated directly or postponed, perhaps by fixing it on the internal Calendar. You can also access information about your Account and general settings from the main program screen. These two menus are essential for using Teams. Once logged in, the user can change the program’s appearance by selecting the light theme rather than the dark one. 

You can choose which device to activate during a videoconference, and you can check or not the various items dedicated to Privacy. When participating in a meeting on Teams, the user can intervene in various ways: through their voice but also using the internal written Chat or “reactions.” In this case, the interventions will be directly entrusted using specific emojis. The basic version of Microsoft Teams is free. If you want access to premium features and additional tools, you can subscribe to three different subscriptions: Microsoft Teams Essentials, Microsoft Teams Business Basic, and Microsoft Teams Business Standard. 

What Are Microsoft Teams

To understand how Teams works, you must first get in touch with the different categories of meeting, group, or call present within the software. The Microsoft service proposes to bring together a team in a videoconference. There are many ways to access it. The first is a simple sharing of a specific URL. Alternatively, you can also receive an invitation from the admin or team owner in question directly to your email. The space dedicated to a team can be divided into several channels. All members can set up one or more channels and can do it according to their personal needs. 

For example, you can create channels based on specific conversation topics. This way, all team members can stay up to date on different business tasks or issues simply by keeping an eye on the dedicated channel. Furthermore, it is always possible to send private messages to one or more members, even within a single track. Another way of communicating in Microsoft Teams is called, which can be made in various ways: via instant messaging, VoIP (Voice over IP), or video conferencing. The software allows you to call telephone numbers directly from the client, as it also supports conferences in PSTN (public telephone network). Microsoft Teams allows you to create channels dedicated to specific topics and to make calls via the public telephone network. 

Finally, the meetings, which are simply video conferences created ad hoc and announced in advance. Team members and channel visitors can receive an invitation in advance. Alternatively, they may notice the presence of one or more meetings in progress, even at the time of access. Microsoft Teams integrates its main functions with the so-called connectors: services that use third-party programs and allow you to send information into a channel in an alternative way. Among the most popular connectors of Teams are Twitter, MailChimp, Facebook, and Bing. 

In addition, it has functions specifically designed for particular sectors. For example, Microsoft 365 for Education subscribers can take advantage of a tab called Assignments: a system that allows teachers to quickly post grades and suggestions and assign assignments to their students. Similarly, team members can integrate Team planning with Microsoft Planner. This way, monitoring complex projects and sharing them with group members becomes much easier and more immediate. 

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How Microsoft Teams Works: Download, Login, Account

Microsoft Teams is available for all major operating systems: from Windows to macOS, via Linux. The user can visit the Teams site and select the program download directly to their device. Alternatively, you can also use Microsoft Teams from a browser. If you want to organize a team, channel, or meeting, you first must register your credentials. To do this, you need to locate the Teams area dedicated to login (Login): whether you use the offline software, the browser version, or one of the various mobile apps available. 

To log in, you need a Microsoft account, which can be created using any email address as a username: Outlook, Gmail, and Yahoo. Then you must enter the right password and, if necessary, the additional elements required by any two-factor authentication. At this point, all that remains is understanding how Teams works on its main screen (we take the desktop version as a reference). At the top right, you can view the account login information. The main screen of the desktop version of Microsoft Teams is divided into three parts: a vertical column in the upper left, a central space, and a user profile picture in the upper right. 

From here, the user can set his status, perhaps choosing from one of those suggested: from Available to Not Available, from Offline to Back Now. Alternatively, you can also type your status message and set the time, after which it will automatically clear. By clicking on the user profile image, you enter the account management: the space where you can add a new address, such as the company one. Next to the profile image, by clicking on the icon representing three horizontal dots, you access various items: you start with the possibility of enlarging or reducing the screen size. 

You get the option to upgrade your version of Microsoft Teams or download the mobile app (available for Android and iOS). Starting from the icon representing three horizontal dots, the user can also view various technical information relating to the installed version, the legal ones, and those relating to Privacy and cookies. Finally, you can access the General Settings, which will be analyzed in detail in the following paragraphs.

How Microsoft Teams Works: Settings

After logging in, it is worth looking at the Settings in more detail to learn how to use Microsoft Teams. The General item allows you to perform various aesthetic interventions: for example, the theme selection, which can be predefined (light), dark, or characterized by a higher contrast than normal. From the General item, it is also possible to change the density of the messages that appear in a window and select the language of the app and that of the keyboard. You can also choose whether to open chats in the current window or a new one. Also, from Settings> General, you can check whether or not the items are dedicated to the automatic opening of Teams when starting and maintaining the application after closing the screen. 

But also those dedicated to enabling or disabling hardware acceleration and recording for diagnostic reasons. The Settings item dedicated to the Account allows you to return to some steps already described in the previous paragraphs. The one devoted to Plans and Updates lets you see the benefits of a Premium account and upgrade. Microsoft Teams Settings allow you to intervene on general aspects, change or add accounts, switch to premium features, and much more. The Privacy item is very important because it allows you to activate or deactivate the synchronization of contacts found via mobile device. 

Furthermore, also from here, it is possible to view or modify the list of blocked contacts: those who cannot call the user nor see him when he is online. From Privacy, it is also possible to update the telephone number and email address associated with your user and decide whether or not to show them to the public. Finally, from Privacy, you can check additional items: those dedicated to using keyboard shortcuts, reading receipts, and participation in Microsoft Teams surveys. The Settings item dedicated to Notifications allows you to choose where to receive information in case you receive a mention, a message, a “like,” or a reaction. Depending on the notification, you can opt for the banner, the feed, or both. 

Also, from here, you can choose whether to play sound together with a notification or a call. The last entry in Microsoft Teams Settings is dedicated to Devices. It allows you to configure the audio and video devices used during calls and video conferences. You go from the choice of the speaker to that of the microphone, whose sensitivity can be adjusted automatically. You can eliminate excessive noise, select the presence of a possible secondary ringer and indicate the camera to be used in the videoconference. In the latter case, viewing a live preview of the available shot is possible. 

How Microsoft Teams Works: Chat, Meetings, Calendar

The central part of the Microsoft Teams screen changes depending on the menu or section chosen by the user. The main items are located in a vertical column, which is located in the upper left corner of the desktop version of the program. From here, you can perform several different operations. The Actions item allows you to observe a Feed dedicated to the latest online user activities. A list of responses and mentions received, or, more generally, a list of generic notifications. 

The Chat item allows you to create a new videoconference and observe the history of your previous participations. Microsoft Teams offers preset chat models: the one dedicated to the Family, the one to the Corporate Network, and the one to Friends. The entry called Calendar is where you can see all the chats, meetings, or video conferences to which the user has been invited. You can also start a new discussion or join an ongoing forum from this section. Finally, the Microsoft Teams Calendar can integrate with that of Google. Finally, the item Start Meeting is the one dedicated to the creation of videoconferences. The user can choose to set one in real-time but postpone it to a specific date, perhaps putting it directly on the Calendar. 

How A Video Conference On Microsoft Teams Works

After observing how Teams works in downloads, login, screen, and settings, all that remains is to get into the merits of video conferences. When you start a new meeting in real-time,  you are faced with a screen dedicated to the invitation. From here, the user can add participants to the meeting in various ways: for example, they can copy a specific URL and send it in the way they prefer. Alternatively, you can use the direct sharing options proposed by the program: the one via Outlook Calendar (Office suite), the one via Google Calendar, and the one via default email. 

If you log in as an external user (guest), the first thing to do is instead enter the name with which the other participants will identify you. This is true in case you start your meeting and others invite you. During a Meeting, the user can activate or deactivate the webcam and microphone. It can change the background image and apply a blur effect to the frame. The screen dedicated to entering the username is also the one where you can activate or deactivate the audio or video. The peripherals can still be enabled or disabled, even during the videoconference, by clicking on the icons dedicated to the Webcam and Microphone. 

Once inside a Meeting, the top of the screen contains a horizontal menu. From here, it is possible to observe the Participants, open the Chat or publish Reactions via emoji: a heart as a sign of appreciation. A hand raised to ask to speak, and so on. A particularly important aspect on which it is possible to intervene concerns the Background Settings. You can get there by clicking on the Other item, represented by three horizontal dots. This submenu allows the user to change the background behind him: he can choose a predefined image and upload an unedited one. Alternatively, you can apply a blur effect to the real frame experience.

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