As more and more of our working life is conducted virtually and we communicate more using Microsoft Teams with internal and external people, it can be a challenge to determine which features we can use with whom. As I write this it’s June 2020 and COVID-19 is still impacting many working practices, but this digital life isn’t new and isn’t going to go away either.
The official guidance on https://docs.microsoft.com just wasn’t giving me answers that matched what I was seeing in real life, so I set out on a mission to try and put together a more comprehensive guide to what works in which situations.
HOWEVER: it’s complicated and ever changing, so please do comment on this post if you find something that you disagree with or has changed.
First a few definitions of terms I’m going to use in this guide:
- Internal User – A person in the same organisation as you, who has a 365 license. Normally has the same email suffix as you (the bit after the @ sign)
- Guest User – A person in a different organisation, who has been added as a recognised user for your organisation. They may have been invited to join a team, had a document shared to them or have been manually added as a guest by an administrator. A more technical definition is that they have been added to Azure AD as a Guest/External User, do not have a license on your tenant and log in with an identity that is not managed by you (e.g. another organisations Office365, Gmail, Facebook or a Microsoft account)
- External User – A person in a different organisation, with whom you communicate. Also known as a federated user
- Chat – Messaging and calls from the Chat in Microsoft Teams. This can be 1:1 or small groups.
- Meeting Chat – Chat which accompanies a Teams meeting. Unfortunately for these definitions once someone posts a message in the meeting chat, these chats are also available from Chat in Teams. These are different to 1:1 or group chats though.
- Teams Posts – The chat which is part of a Team channel and only available to member of the team.
This guide looks at communication which is Teams to Teams, no Skype of any kind is covered. It is possible for administrators to restrict these features with different policies and settings in Teams and Azure AD, but to try and keep it simple I’ve assumed all communication is permitted at both ends of the conversation, which means:
- No blocked domains at either end (called Open Federation) , or at least users at either end are permitted/not blocked
- Azure AD Guest Access is permitted and guests can be invited by users not just admins
- Policies and Teams settings permit communication with Guest and External Users including anonymous meeting join without restrictions
|Action||In||External User||Guest User||Internal User|
|Send Chat Message||Chat||Yes||Yes||Yes|
|Make a Voice Call in Chat||Chat||Yes||Yes||Yes|
|Make a Video Call in Chat||Chat||Yes||Yes||Yes|
|Be Added to a Group Chat||Chat||No||Yes||Yes|
|Share Files in Chat using Paperclip||Chat||No||No2||Yes|
|Share Files in Meeting Chat using Paperclip||Meetings||No||Yes||Yes|
|Share Files in Teams Posts using Paperclip||Teams||N/A1||Yes||Yes|
|Share Screen in a Call or Meeting||Chat||Yes||Yes||Yes|
|Share Screen in a Call or Meeting||Meetings||Yes||Yes||Yes|
|Respond to a Poll in Meeting Chat||Meetings||No||Yes3||Yes|
|Respond to a Poll in Teams Posts||Teams||N/A1||Yes3||Yes|
|Use Meeting Notes||Meetings||No||Yes3||Yes|
|View Meeting Recording||Meetings||No||No||Yes|
|Contribute to Meeting Notes||Meetings||No||Yes3||Yes|
|View Meeting Whiteboard||Meetings||Via Shared Screen only||Yes3||Yes|
|Contribute to Meeting Whiteboard||Meetings||Only if given Control||Yes3||Yes|
|Use @ Mentions||Chat||Yes||Yes||Yes|
|Use @ Mentions||Meetings||Yes||Yes||Yes|
|Use @ Mentions||Teams||Yes||Yes||Yes|
|Use Fun Stuff – Emojis, Gifs & Stickers||Chat||Yes||Yes||Yes|
|Use Fun Stuff – Emojis, Gifs & Stickers||Meetings||Yes||Yes||Yes|
|Use Fun Stuff – Emojis, Gifs & Stickers||Teams||Yes||Yes||Yes|
|Send Audio Messages from Mobile App in Chat||Chat||Yes||Yes||Yes|
|Send Audio Message from Mobile App in Meeting Chat||Meetings||Yes||Yes||Yes|
1 External users who are invited to a Team become guest users
2 it is partially possible to share files with guest users using the paperclip. If UserA is added as a guest in your tenant (either by being manually added or invited to a Team), and you message UserA(Guest) in your tenant, you can share files using the paperclip. However UserA(Guest) cannot share files to you. You also cannot share files in the chat from your own tenants using the paperclip. A workaround is to upload the file into your OneDrive and generate a link which you can share in the chat. Sharing a file to specific users automatically sends them an email, which is the simplest method, though this does not keep the conversation in Teams.
3 When joining meeting from the guest tenant. This means using Teams in the browser, switching to the guest tenant then pasting the join link into different tab and joining the meeting in the browser version of Teams. Whiteboard is only available to the guest during the meeting and when they join from the guest tenant.
4 if a presenter in the meeting.
I started out with https://docs.microsoft.com/en-us/microsoftteams/communicate-with-users-from-other-organizations which compares the features external users and guest users can use in Chat. The table above is based on my testing of these features. However I’ve included the original here as it stood when I wrote this article and I’ve expanded the footnotes to the table from that article here.
|Feature||External access users||Guest access users|
|User can chat with someone in another company||Yes||Yes|
|User can call someone in another company||Yes||Yes|
|User can see if someone from another company is available for call or chat||Yes||Yes1|
|User can search for users across external tenants||Yes2||No|
|User can share files||No||Yes|
|User can access Teams resources||No||Yes|
|User can be added to a group chat||No||Yes|
|User can be invited to a meeting||Yes||Yes|
|Additional users can be added to a chat with an external user||No3||N/A|
|User is identified as an external party||Yes||Yes|
|Presence is displayed||Yes||Yes|
|Out of office message is shown||No||Yes|
|Individual user can be blocked||No||Yes|
|@mentions are supported||Yes4||Yes|
|Make private calls||Yes||Yes|
|View the phone number for dial-in meeting participants||No5||Yes|
|Allow IP video||Yes||Yes|
|Screen sharing mode||Yes4||Yes|
|Allow meet now||No||Yes|
|Edit sent messages||Yes4||Yes|
|Can delete sent messages||Yes4||Yes|
|Use Giphy in conversation||Yes4||Yes|
|Use memes in conversation||Yes4||Yes|
|Use stickers in conversation||Yes4||Yes|
1 Provided that the user has been added as a guest and is signed in as a guest to the guest tenant.
2 Only by email or chat address if a different address is used for Teams than email. (technically the chat address is the Session Initiation Protocol (SIP) address).
3 External (federated) chat is 1:1 only.
4 Supported for 1:1 chat for Teams Only to Teams Only users from two different organizations. This refers to the “coexistance” setting which controls how Skype for Business Online (SfBO) and Teams work side by side in the same organisation. As SfBO is retiring in July 2021 organisations are moving to Teams. Once moved they work in ‘Teams Only’ coexistence mode and don’t use SfBO.
5 By default, external users in a meeting can’t see the phone numbers of any participant who have dialed-in. If you want to maintain the privacy of these phone numbers, select Tones for Entry/exit announcement type (this prevents the numbers from being read out by Teams). As a Teams Administrator to change these setting see Turn on or off entry and exit announcements for meetings in Microsoft Teams.
Now if you are a Teams Admin, you need a little more info on making sure things are set up how you need for your organisation.
When configuring Guest Users for Microsoft Teams refer to https://docs.microsoft.com/en-us/microsoftteams/guest-access-checklist to check you have configured all aspects of the behaviour you require.
You need to consider policies and settings for Teams to control guest/external access and features. The sections in the Teams Admin Centre to look at are:
- Meeting Policies – especially the Participants & Guests section
- Meeting Settings – Anonymous meeting join permitted?
- External Access
- Guest Access
Below you will find the configuration used to write this guide for each of these. As a consultant and trainer working with a wide range of organisations these are the settings that work for me and are basically ‘Everything On’.