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No Support for Multiple Work Accounts (Yet)
Much fuss and bother resulted in the interweb last week when commentators (including the redoubtable Mary-Jo Foley) decided that Teams would soon support multiple accounts. The origin of the idea came from a reading of Microsoft 365 roadmap item 68845, titled “Microsoft Teams: Additional settings for multiple Accounts and Organizations.”
Teams Has Problems with Multiple Accounts
Today, Teams clients allow a single work account per profile. Connections to multiple tenants can be in the profile, but the same account is used everywhere. The account belongs to a home tenant and is an Azure B2B collaboration guest account in the other tenants. All the accounts (home and guest) are linked to the same user principal name. People who need to use multiple accounts, like consultants who work with multiple customers, can work around the issue by using web apps for each tenant or private browser sessions. These are effective solutions, albeit kludgy.
A better solution would be to allow a Teams profile to support connections to multiple tenants from multiple accounts. Each connection would have an associated account, and when the client switched connections to another tenant, it would authenticate using the associated account. The Teams engineering group know that being able to switch between multiple work accounts is a popular requirement. The last update (November 5) covers what’s in roadmap item 68845 and says that “Support for multiple work accounts is still being worked on and will come at a later date.”
Teams at Home and Mobile Clients
Account switching is supported in the Teams mobile clients to allow users to move between work tenants and Teams for home. When you add a connection to Teams for home in a mobile client, you link the connection to a personal account, and when the client connects to Teams for home, it authenticates using the associated personal account. Even though I am uncertain about how compelling Teams at home is, the implementation of multiple accounts is shows the way Teams can support multiple accounts in a profile.
Accommodating Personal Accounts in Teams Desktop
But that’s not what the roadmap item promises. Instead, it’s simply a matter of updating the Teams desktop client to bring it to feature parity with the mobile client. The description says: “We’re adding support within Teams desktop to be able to add one personal account, along with one work/school account, change their profile picture, and switch between accounts and orgs through Settings.” In the defense of those who read more into the roadmap item than it actually promises, Microsoft added the caveat about one personal account after the initial reports appeared.
Just like the mobile client, you’ll be able to add a single personal account to a Teams profile. The account switcher in the Teams desktop client is being updated to allow the addition of a personal account (Figure 1).
When the personal account is added to the profile, you’ll be able to switch top it just like switching to a guest account in another tenant. In Figure 2, you see a work account at the top of the new account switcher (see below) with a list of tenants below. At the bottom, you see a personal account.
Overhauled Account Switcher
Part of the work to support personal accounts is an overhaul to the way the Teams client displays organizations and accounts available to a user (described in MC226759 of 13 November). Instead of the old-style account listing exposed when clicking the organization name in the title bar (Figure 3), Teams moves the set of organizations an account can access to a new Accounts & Orgs switcher under the avatar (user photo). The Accounts & Orgs switcher is what you can see in Figure 2. This change is rolling out in mid-November.
Work and personal experiences run in separate windows to differentiate between personal and work activities.
Update Rolling Out in November
Office 365 notification MC226037 published on 6 November confirms that the roll-out for the update to the Windows and Mac clients (no mention of the Linux client) will start on November 19, with multiple phases being used to deliver the update to tenants.
You can disable the ability of users to add private accounts by configuring registry settings on workstations to limit sign-in access to specific tenants.
The signs are that we must wait until next year (at least) to see an upgraded account switcher in Teams desktop clients which accommodates multiple work accounts. In the interim, those who want to use Teams at home with the desktop client will be delighted with the coming update.
Lots more information about using Teams can be found in Chapter 11 of the Office 365 for IT Pros eBook. Chapter 12 talks about managing Teams, which is rather a good idea… unmanaged software is seldom a good thing.