Virtual Breakout rooms, Together mode, and more: here’s what Teams added in 2020

Rabia Noureen

With the new year approaching, it means that now is a good time to look back at what’s new in Microsoft Teams in 2020. Indeed, it’s been a busy year for Teams news, as the popular collaboration platform picked up a slew of features to make virtual interactions more engaging and support the global shift to remote work. Here’s a look at everything you need to know, be it virtual Breakout rooms, custom backgrounds, and more.

Chat & Collaboration features

Pinned Posts (2)

We’re starting first with the biggest story of them all, support for pinned posts. The company updated the Teams experience so users can pin important posts in a channel for easier access. The pinned message appears in the channel information pane for everyone to see.

Real-time presence is now available in Microsoft Teams. This means that the app now uses a new subscription-based model to provide real-time presence updates. Another new feature in this area is the ability to set a certain status for a specific period of time. In addition, users can also opt for a custom duration option to help remote workers focus on dedicated tasks.

Moving on, the company launched a new Tasks app for Microsoft Teams. The new Tasks experience provides a new unified view of tasks from across Microsoft Outlook, Planner, and Microsoft To Do. Other chat and collaboration features can be seen below:

Meetings & Calling features

thumbnail image 4 of blog post titled Breakout rooms generally available today in Microsoft Teams

Next, there are meetings and calling features. The biggest one here is Virtual Breakout rooms, one of the much-anticipated features of this year. With this feature, the meeting organizer can split off participants into separate submeetings for group discussions. Thanks to this, organizers can now jump around between rooms, assign people to these breakout rooms, and send announcements to all attendees.

Next on the list is the ability to add custom backgrounds in Microsoft Teams. It’s one of the popular features that allows users to choose from a selection of images to hide their messy room during a video call or meeting.

Other features include the arrival of polls in Microsoft Teams meetings. Now, organizers and presenters can quickly create and launch polls before, during, and after meetings. To do this, they just need to add the Forms app as a tab to Teams. Once created, the meeting participants will be able to view and respond to these polls via a pop-up bubble or chat pane.


From a collaboration perspective, there were also other important features too. Microsoft Teams picked up some big enhancements like a Large gallery view, and Together mode, and it became possible to enable AI based noise suppression in Teams. Some of the other major updates from meetings include:

  • Full-screen support: Microsoft Teams users can now enable “Full-screen mode” in the new meetings experience.
  • Hard Mute: The new Hard mute option helps presenters to stops distractions by preventing attendees from unmuting during meetings.
  • Raise Hand: Users can now use a raise hand option to contribute to a discussion without interrupting the conversation.
  • Video Spotlight feature: Presenters can now use the desktop client to pin individual feeds for attendees to view during a Teams meeting.
  • Multi-Window experiences: This feature now allows users to pop out chats, meetings, and Teams apps in separate windows.

Other features and announcements

Wrapping up the list of what’s new for Teams in 2020 is the new Native ARM 64 Teams app. Indeed, owners of ARM64 devices can now download and run a native ARM64 Teams desktop client to get a faster and more stable experience. The company also announced a bunch of new Teams phones and devices, some new Teams apps, a public preview program for Microsoft Teams, more.

To be clear, we have just listed some of the core features added to Teams in 2020, but there’s a lot more which can’t be covered in one post. So, be sure to head over to our news hub for all the latest Microsoft Teams news and information.