Office 365 Groups Naming Policy Now Available for Production Use

Microsoft announced on Friday that its new naming policy for Office 365 Groups has reached "general availability" status.

The naming policy will give organizations better control over how groups get named by end users. It'll work across various Office 365 apps, such as SharePoint Online, Microsoft Teams, Outlook, Planner and Yammer. With the new policy, IT pros can institute a naming convention that'll add a prefix or suffix to a group name automatically when the group gets created. The prefix or suffix might be used to identify a group's department, for instance.

IT pros can also set up a list of blocked words (up to 5,000) to prevent end users from using words like "CEO, Payroll and HR" in their group names. They can even block the use of "bad" or offensive words in group names.

Setup Details
General availability means that organizations can start using the policy in production environments. However, some of the underlying technologies are still at the "preview" stage, and some Office 365 applications may not all work the same. Those devil-in-the-details matters are outlined in Microsoft's useful documentation on the new Office 365 Groups naming policy.

Another potential stumbling block for organizations could be the licensing requirements for using the Office 365 Groups naming policy. Here's how the document described it:

To use the Groups naming policy feature, the following people need an Azure Active Directory Premium P1 license or Azure AD Basic EDU license:

  • Everyone who is a member of the group.
  • The person who creates the group.
  • The admin who creates the Groups naming policy

A reader, "Kelly Jones," commenting in Microsoft's announcement, asked, "How can I use this feature and not spend the money for a premium license for everyone in my organization?" At press time, there was no Microsoft response.

The new groups naming policy requires some setup beforehand by IT pros. For instance, they will have to install the preview version of Azure Active Directory PowerShell for Graph because the general availability version "will not work" currently with the group naming policy. Moreover, organizations can only have either the preview or the general availability version of Azure Active Directory PowerShell for Graph installed on the same system, Microsoft's documentation explained.

IT pros also have to enable some PowerShell modules, as described in the documentation.

After the policies are established in an organization, end users trying to use blocked names for groups will get a message explaining the restriction. Office 365 global administrators are exempt from the blocked-words restrictions, though.

Some Office 365 applications will work a little differently with the Office 365 Groups naming policy. For instance, the documentation explained that the Outlook desktop app won't give end users a warning message when they try to use a blocked name, although the Outlook Apps for the Android and iOS platforms will work OK in that respect. Another nuanced example is Power BI, where the naming policy "isn't applied automatically."

Other Office 365 News
Exchange Online users now have a public folder consistency agent that will help to remove stale permissions on public folders, Microsoft announced this week. The agent also helps when Mail Enabled Public Folders "do not point to the actual public folder mailbox hosting the public folder content." The agent runs every day and will remove these stale permissions once every seven days.

In other Office 365 news, Teams users can now add a Yammer tab to their teams channels, Microsoft announced this week. Organizations might want to enable this kind of thing to carry out question-and-answer sessions in Yammer, Microsoft's announcement explained. An even more nuanced discussion on how and why organizations should use Yammer can be found in this Microsoft article by Ragnar Heil, a Quest Software channel account manager. Heil described a "working out loud" model for organizations that can leverage Yammer.

Other observers were more puzzled about why organizations would want to have a Yammer tab in Teams. "Is this Yammer's last dying gasp as it struggles for relevance?" asked Chris Johnson, co-founder and CTO at Hyperfish, in a Twitter post.

About the Author

Kurt Mackie is senior news producer for 1105 Media's Converge360 group.


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