Teams quick tip: start a chat as a guest

Recently in conversation with fellow MVP Steven Collier, we had differing views on how chats can be initiated by guests based on our experiences. As it wasn’t clearly documented I sought clarification from the Teams team.

When a guest joins a team, they become a member of the Azure Active Directory and gain visibility of the directory to a certain extent.

How this plays out is that a guest can initiate a chat with any another person in the tenant, in a couple of different scenarios:

Name-based discovery only works for people who exist in the same teams as you

What this means is that if I am in a team with John Doe, I can start a chat with John simply by typing his name.

Similarly if another guest called Jane Smith (Guest) is in the team with me, I can also initiate a chat with Jane by typing her name.

However, if Damien Margaritis is not in a team with me – I cannot initiate a chat with him by typing his name:

Which leads us to….

Chatting with people outside of your teams

Similar to how federation works in Skype for Business; you can initiate a chat with someone in the tenant if you know their email address.

So in the previous example where I was not able to find Damien Margaritis by name, I can however find him by his email address of

And now you know!

Meet Stride, a Microsoft Teams competitor from Atlassian

Welcome everyone to Stride, a new product currently in preview from Atlassian.

It boasts features like group chat & direct messaging, voice & video conferencing, and built-in collaboration tools.

Sound familiar? That’s because it is squarely aimed to compete with Microsoft Teams, Slack, and Workplace by Facebook.

One thing I noted immediately that differs in their approach is the use of the term “Rooms” instead of “Teams” because I guess their view is that a room is a place you go to discuss and do work. While you can appear to leave a room easily enough, I’m uncertain as to what happens with the files and conversations left in there.

I’ve only used for a short time today so my experience is limited, but I’ve already found a few things that I both like and dislike.

What I like about it:

  • Ability to put tasks and decisions straight into the conversation
  • Mobile client supports uploading pictures

What I don’t like about it:

  • No conversational threading
  • No GIFs or memes
  • Can’t like a post in group chat
  • No channels
  • No desktop client

The lack of channels or similar functionality is the most alarming aspect, as I could see the list of rooms growing quite quickly. Already with Microsoft Teams and Office 365 Groups, sprawl is a common issue when users are left to their own devices.

Ultimately this is still in preview and will appeal to those who are in the anti-Microsoft camp. I suspect the integration of other Atlassian products Confluence (SharePoint competitor) and recently-acquired Trello (task & project management competitor) will make it compelling enough for some.

It was only 4-5 years ago where the cloud productivity battlefront was between Google Apps and Office 365. While the dust has somewhat settled on that front, the new battleground appears to be the user experience wrapper – where users don’t have to switch between multiple products to get their work done and can largely stay within the one productivity interface.

Microsoft already has its work cut out for it with Teams competing against Slack and Workplace by Facebook, and like Facebook. Seeing these new relatively new tech giants having the same focus tells me two big things:

  • Email’s time as a mainstay of communication is drawing to a near
  • Organisations and users need to embrace that this is a new way of working, and not just for the hipsters & start-ups

For those organisations who want to stay within the Microsoft camp and haven’t looked at Teams yet: now is the time. And if they are still at the early stages of their Office 365 journey, it’s time to get a move on!