One of the most keenly anticipated features in Office 365 has finally arrived – guest access in Microsoft Teams.
This has been the most requested feature since it’s release and was originally promised in June, then slipped to July, followed by radio silence.
I was lucky enough to have lunch with the Microsoft Teams engineering team leads when they visited Australia back in early June where guest access was discussed. At that lunch they talked about the challenges around licensing models and administrative controls – not an easy thing to address in such a short period of time.
At release, Teams will rely on guests being existing users of Azure Active Directory. This effectively means that anyone who uses Office 365 can be an external guest of a Microsoft Teams team. Later Microsoft will enable external guests to use Microsoft Accounts (formerly known as a Live ID) which already allows users to bring their own email address be it a work account or consumer account. This is a step up from Yammer which doesn’t allow consumer email addresses to be participants in external groups or networks.
This requirement to use an Office 365 or Microsoft Account is already used in SharePoint Online and so therefore won’t be anything new for customers.
You can read more about the announcement here: https://blogs.office.com/en-us/2017/09/11/expand-your-collaboration-with-guest-access-in-microsoft-teams/
And how to use the feature and a very useful FAQ here: https://support.office.com/en-us/article/Guest-access-in-Microsoft-Teams-bd4cdeec-4044-4b4b-9df1-beb139013a3f?ui=en-US&rs=en-US&ad=US
As an independent consultant who works with a lot of organisations I regularly converse with them via email, Yammer external groups, or Skype for Business. As Teams offers the ability to interact with multiple systems using a singular interface I very much look forward to using it myself as an external user with my clients!
Now a brief word of caution: this feature has just come out of the oven, so don’t expect it to work flawless for everyone straight away. While writing this post I tested the functionality with fellow MVP Darrell Webster – he wasn’t able to add one of my email addresses into a team. I however was able to invite him directly into a new team, however upon receiving the invite it asked him to switch tenants, re-authenticate and still didn’t work.
So I’m sure lots of people will run out and test it straight away, and it will work for some and not for others. Be patient, give it some time to finish deploying globally and for any bugs in this brand new feature to be ironed out (which I hope will be very quick).
UPDATE 1: It appears that once you enable guest access in the Office 365 tenant it may take an hour or so to fully flow through to the clients, so don’t expect it to work immediately.
UPDATE 2: Not long after this post went live, myself and fellow MVPs Darrell Webster and Matt Landis were live on Periscope discussing and demonstrating Microsoft Teams guest access in the real world.