On September 12, Microsoft added a new feature to its Teams collaboration platform: guest access for users who are not members of a certain organization. The Teams platform is a collaborative tool that integrates the tools of the Office 365 suite and Microsoft is slowly making its use central to Office 365.

According to Microsoft, the idea is to make Microsoft teams as accessible as possible in order to facilitate adoption and simplify collaboration within a single platform. Teams are by definition the primary workspace for the Office 365 suite. Based on the notion of Office 365 groups, it is, therefore, possible to use Teams for instant messaging, organizing tasks, and definition of schedules, resource sharing, telephone and video communication.

This new feature is currently only available to external users who have active Azure Active Directory accounts (over 800 million Azure AD accounts enabled by Microsoft). In the near future, it will be possible to invite users with only a simple Microsoft account, which will greatly facilitate the integration of external collaborators.

Guest access is possible thanks to the Azure Active Directory B2B service, which is currently only available in Europe and the United States. Teams, therefore, benefit from the same level of security as the Azure AD service, according to recent announcements by Microsoft regarding the evolution of Office 365. It is therefore totally possible to impose more restricted access conditions, Microsoft recommends, of course, multi-factor authentication for further identity verification. The guest accesses and the generated content and their activity are therefore under the same level of protection and monitoring as the rest of the Office 365 group with which they interact. The administrator of the Office 365 group can therefore at any time revoke the access if he wishes

To restrict access, the ability to issue guest accesses is not enabled by default for Office 365 groups. Therefore, you will need to go through your system administrator to activate them if you wish, i.e. at this time no public documentation is available.

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Features for guest access in Microsoft Teams

On the Teams platform, we define the managers of a team who can then control what it will be possible to do in this Team. A Team Manager can be any user of the Office 365 group as soon as Teams is activated (a little like the administrators on the forums). A Team may be of public or private order according to the needs of the company. The managers define the levels of user permission as well as the possibilities of action on the platform. It is, therefore, the managers who control the functionalities offered to invited or uninvited members, namely:

  • Create news feeds and discussion points (specific threads on a certain topic)
  • Manage applications integrated into a certain Team by adding tools if needed
  • Use “@nom” type notifications. This type of notice allows the person to be notified in order to draw his or her attention to a specific comment or topic.
  • Use the “Gifs, Stickers and Memes”

Access Restrictions for Guest Users

Users invited to Teams have some restrictions on their use by default. So they cannot share files in instant messaging feeds or add apps themselves. They cannot create a Team if they wish. By default the public teams are inaccessible and it is, therefore, necessary to be invited.

Each user in the Office 365 Business groups will be able to create a Team, because the functionality is enabled by default, unlike the Office 365 Education groups, where the ability to create Teams is blocked by default. For system administrators who want to disable this option for members of Office 365 Business groups, it will be necessary to revoke the MS Teams licenses for each user in the group through the PowerShell or the Office 365 Admin Center control panel.

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New features for Microsoft Teams

Beyond this new guest access to join a “Microsoft Team”, MS announced that it will continue to provide new third-party integrations for its Teams collaboration platform. With the latest news, the arrival of Botkit would thus create intelligent bots to manage internal and external uses. The bots can be used to inform teams internally about the use of certain tools or to communicate with external partners in guest access for example.

Moreover, a new partnership has just been signed with Adobe to extend the integration of the Teams platform to the Creative Cloud particularly used by graphic designers. This integration will eventually add collaboration capabilities in the Teams tool to directly access the Adobe Creative, Document and Experience Cloud ecosystem.