Microsoft Teams rolls out new ways to connect for the holidays

People all around the United States and the world will be unable to gather with friends and family for Christmas this year due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Microsoft has announced that it has made some new changes to Microsoft Teams to allow people to get together and celebrate in new ways. One of the changes is designed to make virtual office holiday parties and meetings festive with new holiday-themed Together mode scenes and custom backgrounds.Microsoft Teams also added breakout rooms making it easy to mix and mingle during virtual holiday parties and make virtual holiday gatherings more fun. One of the new Together mode scenes is a winter wonderland that has what Microsoft calls holiday spirit. The software giant says it's perfect for hosting a virtual holiday party with your team.

Microsoft has also announced other Together mode scenes in addition to new holiday scenes. Those Together mode scenes include a coffee shop, conference room, classroom, and more. A United Nations Space Command scene from Halo is also available. Users can choose their Together mode scene from the drop-down menu and then click the pencil in the left-hand corner to select the screen. Together mode requires at least five people in the meeting.

New holiday-themed custom backgrounds for standard meetings and video calls are also available. Users do need to download the custom backgrounds they like. The background effects need to be configured when setting up video and audio before joining a meeting. This is accomplished by selecting Background effects, clicking Add new, and then choosing the background upload from the computer.

Another change is that breakout rooms are generally available in Teams as of now. Breakout rooms are intended to allow meetings to be divided into subgroups to facilitate smaller discussions, brainstorming sessions, learning groups, and more. Organizers can move between meetings on their own and can deliver announcements to all breakout rooms at once. Organizers can also bring everyone back to the main meeting at any time.