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Microsoft Teams Now Available to Business Office 365 Subscribers

The Microsoft Teams chat service is now commercially available worldwide for certain Office 365 business subscribers, Microsoft announced today.

The service, which provides access to messages, Skype calls and meetings, will get turned on by default this month for eligible subscribers, although, availability happens gradually with Office 365 service rollouts. Completion is expected by month's end. The service is currently supported in "181 markets and 19 languages," according to Microsoft's announcement.

End users will get a hub with Microsoft Teams, which has tabs that can be customized to connect with other services, such as Microsoft software, bots and third-party software offerings. Currently, "150 integrations are available or coming soon," the announcement indicated regarding this Microsoft Teams "connectors" capability. The hub for end users also provides access to the suite of Office applications and "persistent chat," meaning that the discussions are searchable.

Microsoft Teams has mobile audio and video calling capabilities. However, video calling is yet to come for iOS and Windows Phone devices. Deeper Outlook integration is planned for June of this year, according to the announcement.

At this time, only business subscribers in plans such as "Business Essentials, Business Premium, and Enterprise E1, E3, and E5" are getting access to Microsoft Teams. E4 subscribers who bought that plan before its retirement also will get access.

Microsoft Teams currently isn't available for Office 365 Education and Government users, although that's part of Microsoft's future development plans. Microsoft Teams isn't being sold as a separate "standalone" service.

Management Controls
IT pros who are global administrators have management controls over Microsoft Teams through the Office 365 Admin Center portal. If access to Microsoft Teams isn't wanted, it's possible to revoke access from an individual user's license or from all user licenses using the portal, as described here. PowerShell also can be used for the purpose, as described at this page.

Microsoft Teams works for internal Office 365 end users. There's no support for external guest participants at this time. However, guest access is something that Microsoft is working on, according to a Microsoft Teams FAQ for IT pros. Guest access is expected to arrive in June of this year, per Microsoft's announcement.

When Microsoft Teams rolls out to an Office 365 tenant, end users will see a banner to install a Microsoft Teams client. IT pros can't control this banner notification, the FAQ explained.

End users are the ones who typically create teams, although IT pros can control who can create groups, as described in this support article. A team can be either public or private within an organization. When a team is created, it also automatically includes a "SharePoint site, mailbox, and OneNote notebook," which is all placed in the "General" channel, per the FAQ. Microsoft doesn't have any naming restrictions for team names, but that capability is currently under development.

"The same support for naming restrictions that will be available for Office 365 Groups will apply to Microsoft Teams," Microsoft's FAQ explained.

It's possible for IT pros to create teams, too, but they don't use the Office 365 Admin Center portal to create them. Instead, administrators can "create teams only within the Microsoft Teams app (Windows and Mac desktop app or web app)," according to the FAQ.

App and Browser Support
Microsoft currently has Microsoft Teams desktop apps that are available for Windows 7 and newer versions, as well as Mac OSX 10.10 and greater versions. Also, there are Microsoft Teams mobile apps for Android, iOS and Windows phone. They all can be accessed from this Microsoft Teams clients download page.

In addition, Microsoft Teams runs in Web browsers. The service is supported on "Microsoft Edge 12+, Internet Explorer 11+, Firefox 47.0+, and Chrome 51.0+," according to the FAQ. Apple Safari browser support isn't available, but it "may be added at a later time," Microsoft's FAQ suggested.

Microsoft Teams can be added to an existing Office 365 Group if it has 999 or fewer members (which is the limit for Microsoft Teams membership). It's not possible to add Microsoft Teams to an existing Yammer group. Instead, organizations "can add a Yammer feed as a connector to a channel in Microsoft Teams," the FAQ explained.

An Office 365 tenant can have 500,000 teams maximum, but some limits apply to end users of Microsoft Teams. For instance, end users can create 250 teams maximum, each with a maximum of 999 members. Teams can have up to "10 owners." Private chats can have 10 members total. A meeting can have 80 people at most.

Recommendations
Microsoft has some recommendations for using the Microsoft Teams service. To get the full experience, "every user should be enabled for Exchange Online, SharePoint Online and Office 365 Group creation," according to the FAQ. OneDrive for Business is required to "share and store files in team conversations." There's no Microsoft Teams support for organizations using SharePoint on premises.

When using Microsoft Teams, Exchange mailboxes can be hosted or stored on premises, but they need to be synchronized to Azure Active Directory. Some limitations exist, though. For instance, it's not possible to create and view meetings, modify user profile pictures, or add and configure connectors for Exchange on premises or "Exchange Online Dedicated -- Legacy," Microsoft's FAQ explained.

The user data created with Microsoft Teams "stays within the tenant." Microsoft doesn't have access to it, according to the FAQ. Deleted messages get stored between a range of 7 and 30 days before being permanently erased.

It's possible to use the Office 365 Security and Compliance Center to search, archive and put legal holds on chats and messages. Microsoft Teams has standards support for "ISO 27001, ISO 27018, SSAE16 SOC 1 and SOC 2, HIPAA, and EU Model Clauses (EUMC)," per the FAQ.

For those looking for Microsoft Teams release notes, Microsoft archives the details at this page.

Microsoft plans to initiate an online public forum to answer questions about Microsoft Teams. The one-hour "Ask Us Anything" event will start on March 22 at 9:00 a.m. Pacific Daylight Time.

About the Author

Kurt Mackie is senior news producer for the 1105 Enterprise Computing Group.

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