A Subtle Change to Meeting Chat Access
Chat is a very powerful way of sharing information during meetings. Participants can ask questions, share links to information, post snippets of information, opine, or otherwise natter on aimlessly about the state of the world. The chat is available after the meeting ends for participants to go back and check what happened during calls (Figure 1).
Changes for People Not on Original Participant List
Meetings have various resources attached to them such as the chat, participant list, recording, and so on. What’s changing is the way that people who aren’t originally invited to meetings but join them subsequently can access the chat. Up to now, anyone who participates in the meeting has full access to all the resources, including the full chat history from the start of the meeting.
The change is revealed in Office 365 MC226407 (11 November). This text caused me to read it several times to comprehend what’s happening, especially as the notification focused on meeting chat while the associated Microsoft 365 roadmap item 68853 has a wider scope, saying:
“People added to a meeting via a meeting link and were not added to the original meeting invite will no longer have access to chats, files, notes, and other meeting content after the meeting ends. They will continue to have access to meeting assets during the meeting but lose access once the meeting ends.”
My understanding is that the notification covers the scenario when someone is added after a meeting has started (for instance, a presenter adds them to the call). Instead of having full access to the chat, where they might see some discussion about whether to add them to the call, they’ll only see chat messages sent after they join. In addition, the new participant only has access to the chat stream while the meeting is in progress and loses access when the meeting ends. Those originally invited to the meeting or who receive forwarded invitations retain full access to chat during and after the meeting. In line with the text of the roadmap item, access is lost to all meeting assets and not just chat.
A small but important difference exists for instances of recurring meetings where only the originally invited participants keep access to meeting resources once the meeting finishes. In this scenario, people who receive forwarded invitations lose access once they leave the instance of the recurring meeting they attended. The logic here is that a recurring meeting uses the same online space and if the attendee wasn’t removed at this point, they would have access to all instances of the meeting.
Only Newly Scheduled Meetings
The new behavior only applies to new meetings. Anything scheduled before the change comes into effect uses the old approach. If you don’t want this to apply in future instances of recurring meetings, you must delete the old meeting and schedule a replacement.
Microsoft’s original plan was to roll out the change in early December. On December 8, 2020, they updated MC226407 to say that they needed to delay to make some extra changes and were now targeting Q1 2021.
Detail like this isn’t important until you’re affected by a change. Those who run Teams meetings for their organization need to understand this kind of information, which is why they might like to subscribe to the Office 365 for IT Pros eBook and receive monthly updates about the essential changes across Office 365.