Outlook Makes Online Meetings the Norm

Create Teams or Skype for Business Online Meetings by Default

Office 365 Notification MC213856 published on May 20 tells us that users will soon be able to configure OWA and Outlook mobile clients so that any meeting created is an online event. Given the current need to work from home, this change reflects the transition of many meetings from in-person events to online.

The feature only works when an account is connected to an Office 365 tenant with Teams or Skype for Business Online configured for online meetings. Unsurprisingly, it doesn’t work with other online meeting providers like Zoom and GoToMeeting. According to Microsoft 365 roadmap item 58132, an add-in is due in late 2020 to allow third-party online meetings to be scheduled from Outlook mobile.

Three roadmap items are covered by the announcement: 63383 (OWA), 63625 (Outlook for iOS), and 63628 (Outlook for Android). There’s no news at this point if Outlook desktop will get the same feature.

Making Online Meetings

Today, users must take an explicit action to create an online meeting. For example, in OWA, they set a slider to mark the meeting as a Teams or Skype for Business event. When this happens, the client retrieves a URI from the online provider pointing to the online “space” used for the meeting and inserts the URI into the meeting request. Other properties of the meeting request are updated to allow participants to join the meeting online.

Microsoft will release a client update for OWA at the end of May with Outlook mobile clients being updated over the June-July period. When available, the updates allow users to control whether they want to make every meeting an online event. In the meantime, some PowerShell settings are already available to control the feature at a tenant and mailbox level.

Tenant Online Meeting Setting

The Set-OrganizationConfig cmdlet manages the Exchange Online tenant configuration. The OnlineMeetingsByDefaultEnabled setting is False, meaning that online meetings are not the default. Updating the setting to True makes online meetings the default, and clients that support the setting will use it unless it is overridden by a mailbox-specific setting.

Mailbox Online Meeting Setting

To override the organization setting on a mailbox level, run the Set-MailboxCalendarConfiguration cmdlet. The mailbox setting has the same name, but it’s Null by default, meaning that the organization setting takes precedence. You can set the value to $True to force the use of online meetings or $False to make “normal” (non-online) meetings be the default. Here’s a typical example of updating the calendar configuration for a mailbox.

Actions

If you do nothing, the organization setting will be False, and clients will work as they do today unless and until users update their calendar settings. The need to update the organization setting depends on the type of company, its meeting culture, and the prevalence of online meetings (using Teams and Skype for Business).

If you use another online meeting provider, leave the organization setting alone and don’t tell users about the calendar settings. On the other hand, if you’re deep into Teams or Skype for Business, maybe the right idea is to switch to online meetings by default. It all depends on how people work in your company.


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4 Replies to “Outlook Makes Online Meetings the Norm”

  1. that’s great.

    this option is available to me right now, but when I use it, it always setup a Skype meeting, and we are using Teams. Do you know where can you choose/configure to use Teams as the default platform (instead Skype)?

    1. Is Teams configured in island mode? If then, you might need to configure some settings in the meetings policy assigned to accounts.

      The policy can only be set in PowerShell. You can edit an existing Teams meeting policy using the Set-CsTeamsMeetingPolicy cmdlet or create a new Teams meeting policy by using the Grant-CsTeamsMeetingPolicy cmdlet and assign it to a user.

      Set AllowOutlookAddIn to True in TeamsMeetingPolicy to allow the Outlook plugins
      Set PreferredMeetingProviderForIslandsMode
      TeamsAndSfb – is the default value; if you do nothing, end-user functionality remains unchanged. Allow users to select either the Skype for Business add-in or the Teams Meeting add-in in Outlook.
      TeamsOnly – Restrict meetings scheduled in Outlook to Teams. Remove the Skype for Business meeting add-in and enable just the Teams meeting add-in.
      Note: this setting does not change existing Skype for Business meeting join links to Teams meeting join links. The setting affects only future meetings.

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