Teams Gets Enhanced Scheduling Experience

New Teams Scheduling Form Resembles Outlook

Office 365 Notification MC200243 published on 15 January 2020 brings the news that Teams is getting an “enhanced scheduling experience,” which is a long-winded way of saying that Microsoft has upgraded the form used to schedule a meeting in the calendar app in the Teams desktop and browser clients. The new form is described in Microsoft 365 roadmap item 54364. The code will roll out to tenants in mid-February 2020.

New Features in The New Form

According to Microsoft, the new form (Figure 1) retains previous functionality (always good) and adds:

  • An improved view of available time (you can see the suggested times in Figure 1).
  • The ability to add required and optional attendees. You can add tenant users, guest users, and other external recipients (by entering their email address) as meeting attendees.
  • A room picker to select from room mailboxes defined in the tenant. Unlike OWA and Outlook mobile, the form doesn’t use the Outlook Places service to display location information about rooms.
  • Toggle to set an all-day event.
  • Time zone picker.
The new  Teams Meeting Scheduling Form
Figure 1: The new Teams Meeting Scheduling Form

The form also includes a Scheduling Assistant tab (Figure 2) to display availability information for the attendees.

Teams scheduling assistant
Figure 2: Teams scheduling assistant

When a meeting is scheduled, Teams adds the information about the online meeting to the request and posts it to either:

  • Attendee calendars, if no channel is associated with the meeting, the meeting request is sent from the mailbox of the meeting organizer to attendees, who can then RSVP to the invitation.
  • As a new conversation in the associated channel, if one is assigned (Figure 3). The meeting request is sent from the group mailbox of the team that owns the channel. People invited to the meeting (including guests and external recipients) can still attend, but they can’t access the channel conversation or other resources belonging to the team that owns the channel.
A meeting posted to a Teams channel
Figure 3: A meeting posted to a Teams channel

Like Outlook – Almost!

The new meeting form brings Teams up close to parity with the meeting schedule experience in Outlook desktop or OWA. There’s more properties of a meeting (like category) to set in Outlook and OWA makes good use of the map and location data to show attendees where meetings will take place. Both Outlook clients can display multiple calendars, including those belonging to groups, and Teams doesn’t handle the tricky details of calendar delegate and management.

But from the perspective of an average Office 365 user, the difference between Teams and Outlook is down to a few minor points that won’t be noticed by most people. The new form is a good change because it will help those who want to move their focus for internal communications away from email to Teams handle meetings better than before. Whether it will help prise Outlook away from those who remain dedicated to Outlook’s calendar remains to be seen.

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