Sharing content into a Microsoft Teams Room System — the definitive guide (APP version 188.8.131.52)
There has been talk about how sharing content into a meeting room should work long before Microsoft introduced their room systems and has been a challenge since the dawn of the conference room as all users think their way is the “right way”.
As an example, custom programmers in conference rooms have needed to decide how this works when programming and have struggled with this concept for years and many times its left up to the question “Well how do you Mr/Mrs customer want this to work?” This leads to the many ways that it does work and what you might think is “right” might not be the way that it actually works, so lets go through how it works in these systems past and present so you can understand the behavior and train the users on the proper experience.
THE HISTORY OF SHARING IN MICROSOFT ROOM SYSTEMS
When Microsoft first introduced the Lync Room System (LRS) it was a very simple approach to content sharing. You plug the HDMI cable into your PC and it shares automatically to the room and thus to the meeting. This presented some issues for users who wanted to preview their content prior to sharing into the meeting, so items and behavior was adapted over time including the idea of an in-room PC.
Then there was the idea of an in-room PC setting that enabled content to always be there, but not effect the functionality or layout of the front screens until enabled by the user in the room. This was there for users who always had a PC connected to the system and was always sending a signal. This feature was not moved forward to the Teams Meeting Room Systems due to customer issues it created, but has created some confusion for users of MTR or SRSv2 which I will address below.
Some of these features were moved forward into the Teams Room Systems, but as seen recently, there is still some confusion over how this works which prompted writing this article in an attempt to explain the behavior.
MICROSOFT TEAMS ROOM CONTENT SHARING
To start this conversation, we must start with the idea that there are 2 ways to share content into a Microsoft Teams Room without any additional equipment added onto it. I will explain later about some equipment you might want to surround your system with to help expand its capabilities, but they are optional as you will see.
At the core of these solutions, you can share content into the systems in 2 basic methods:
- Plug in your device (computer or tablet) using the HDMI cable that is fed into the HDMI input of the room system equipment you have.
- Join the Teams or Skype for Business meeting and share into the meeting that the room system is joined into.
LETS INVESTIGATE HOW PLUGGING IN A CABLE FUNCTIONS
When you plug the HDMI cable into your PC, that will hopefully trigger the PC (or laptop) to send the signal to the room system. For the purposes here we will assume that it sends the signal automatically and you don’t need to choose to duplicate or extend the desktop on your device. It should be noted though that if the PC does not automatically send a signal, that can be one source of struggles for the users and it has nothing to do with the room system itself.
Now, lets get back to when you plug your cable in and the PC sends the signal automatically to the room system. On the Microsoft Teams Room systems as of today, this automatically shows at the front of the room on the screen. If you have a single screen, it is shown there, if you have a dual screen it is shown on the display you have chosen in setup. Remember, I said it is shown in the room. It is up to the administrator how they setup the room system whether or not this is automatically shared into the meeting that the room system is joined to.
In the setup screens you have the option of choosing whether or not there is automatic screen sharing. This is deciding whether or not when you plug in, if your content is shared into the meeting or not.
If you choose to not automatically share your screen as seen above in both a Teams meeting and a Skype for Business meeting, then the user needs to be instructed to hit the present screen button from the in meeting controls on Skype for Business or Teams meetings pages.
****You cannot currently stop sharing locally into the room if there is a video signal present and you are in a meeting. Your controls are for whether or not to share into the meeting on Teams. ****
If you are in dual screen mode, you can decide which screen you are sharing to as an admin in the setup screens. If you would like your content to show on the other screen, then it is as simple as hitting the swap screens in setup.
**If any of the product group is looking at this, it would help if you would show a layout of the current expected layout here and would ease setup***
When not in a meeting and a device is sending a video signal to the screen you have 2 icons that will be shown. Present and Stop Presenting as seen below
Microsoft does detail the abilities in their documentation here and when it changes there will be documentation about how that changes and more than likely this blog will also need updating.
JOINING A MEETING TO SHARE CONTENT INTO THE ROOM
If the Teams Room system is currently in a Teams meeting and content is being shown from any participant (including those in the room who choose to join the meeting from their laptops) then that content is shown in the room the same way as if you plugged in the HDMI cable. What I have seen and customers prefer is that they teach and instruct their users how to join the meeting and share their laptop versus having a cable at the table. Many times this is easier on the conference room administrators as a way to introduce sharing your laptop into a meeting and that way using a room system or sitting at your desk takes the same actions.
SINCE THERE IS ALWAYS A SIGNAL I CAN’T USE AN EXTERNAL DEVICE ALWAYS CONNECTED TO THE CONTENT INPUT — OR CAN I?
Right now using app 4.3.33.o as long as there is a video signal on the HDMI input it will show at the front of the room.
This is challenging for many wireless screen sharing solutions as this is how their connection instructions are shown to the user in the room. Crestron’s AirMedia AM-200 and AM-300 have a Flex mode that turns the front of room off and the information is delivered via Crestron’s page flip with no Crestron programming needed.
Also Barco’s clickshare has the ability to turn off the front of room display as well.
Once the wireless devices are shared into the Crestron or Barco devices, then those devices can also be shared into the Teams Room Systems (MTR) and thus can be shared into the Teams meetings that are held through the MTR.
So these 2 systems can be used as a wireless sharing device with MTR currently without a problem and can enhance wireless sharing not only into the room, but also into the Teams meetings themselves. There are changes coming as noted in the Microsoft Communities.
We are adding “Gallery/ video only” layout and will make that default layout if auto sharing option is turned off when you start a meeting. We are working on it and expect to have this available in H1 CY2020. If you would like an early preview, please enroll in TAP program at http://aka.ms/tapmtr
We are also going to release wireless casting for MTR devices and we recommend you to use that for wirelessly casting to devices outside of the meeting.
We do not test/ support always on media with MTR yet so, at this point we are not going to add complexity of “do not project” to screen for out of meeting as it was an option in SfB. We are looking at support content sources and configuration options for those when out of meeting later this year and will have guidance available in 2nd half of this year.
The behavior of the systems as documented is how they work. Trying to make something other than the documented behavior happen will more than likely result in frustration to the administrator of the room systems as users will become confused. The capabilities will obviously be expanding as these room systems continue to get features added to them through software every single month.
At some point, the wire at the table will more than likely be something that many conference room administrators will likely forgo for a wireless solution as wires at the table become a pain point for many that have been in managing conference room solutions. There might still be a need for some users, but the majority would forgo the wires if the reliability of wireless sharing matched that of a cable.
Some have posted user voice suggestions for the product group as the product group is always looking for suggestions on how users are deploying their systems in the field.
And others that you can search from the main page of User Voice.