By: Linda Rosencrance
Microsoft has rolled out guest access for Teams to all Office 365 commercial and education customers. That means that Office 365 users can add people from outside their organizations to teams, so guests can take part in chats, join meetings, collaborate on documents, and more. Additionally, Microsoft launched new developer tools for Teams.
According to Lori Wright, general manager for Microsoft Teams, customers have clamored for guest access since Teams became generally available some six months ago. Microsoft has since worked hard to “get it right,” she stated.
Microsoft has designed guest access in Teams with the following principles in mind:
- Teamwork: Any user with an Azure Active Directory (Azure AD) account can be added as a guest in Teams. Microsoft further plans to enable anyone with a Microsoft Account (MSA) to be added as a guest. A guest without an existing MSA will be directed to create a free account using a current corporate or consumer email address, such as Outlook.com or Gmail.com.
- Security and compliance: Guest accounts are added in Teams and securely managed within Azure AD through Azure AD B2B Collaboration, which, says Wright, enables enterprise-grade security, including conditional access policies for guest user access. If guest access seems like leaving the doors and windows unlocked, Azure AD uses adaptive machine learning algorithms and heuristics to detect anomalies and suspicious incidents, allowing mitigation or remediation actions like multi-factor authentication to be triggered as needed. In addition, Azure AD gives IT departments better insight into the activities of external users in their organizations through detailed sign-in and access reports. “Guest user content and activities are under the same compliance and auditing protection as the rest of Office 365,” Wright stated.
- IT manageability: Guest access in Teams lets IT centrally manage how guests participate within their Office 365 environments, offering consistency across applications in Office 365. And IT admins can quickly and easily view, add, or revoke a guest’s access to the host tenant.
Will Skype for Business join Microsoft Teams?
Based on what appears to have been some unintended marketing message releases from Microsoft, Teams could become the new Skype for Business client.
In a blog post, Tony Redmond, a Microsoft MVP for Exchange Server, explained what happened, including the apparently accidental splash screen some users saw recently with the title “Skype for Business is now Microsoft Teams!” As Redmond foresees it, Microsoft will replace the Skype for Business client with a modified version of the Teams client.
Shortly after word of the change got out, Microsoft posted a notice in the Office 365 Message Center, interesting because of the “action required” deadline of September 7, 2018, which might have indicated how long the transition to Teams would take, according to Redmond. However, soon after Microsoft posted the notification, the company removed it from Office 365.
Redmond chalked up the splash screen and related Office 365 message to an “uncoordinated response to an unexpected incident,” but expects full disclosure at Microsoft Ignite, later this month. He added that Microsoft must ensure that the lightweight Teams client can do everything that the Skype for Business client can do.