Microsoft Imposes Consistency for New Teams Settings

Making Teams Client and the Admin Center Produce the Same Type of Teams

Message center notification MC238795 of February 10 says that Microsoft plans “to align experience for creating a team from different Teams interfaces.” This is a complicated way of saying that currently the settings of teams differ depending on where they are created, and Microsoft is making changes to make sure that some important settings are consistent. Specifically, teams created in the Teams client and the Teams admin center (Figure 1) will have the same settings. The change is scheduled for mid-March.

Creating a new team in the Teams admin center
Figure 1: Creating a new team in the Teams admin center

A side effect of the change is that members added to teams created through the Teams admin center will receive “Welcome to Teams” messages rather than “Welcome to Groups.” This might not seem important, but it is because the messages point users to different types of functionality. Teams focuses on chat-based collaboration; Groups focuses on email.

Groups, Teams, and Settings

Every team is underpinned by a Microsoft 365 group. Groups can be used in different ways, but several settings relate to Outlook groups that Teams does not use. The focus is to make team-enabled groups have the same settings.

To explain the problem, let’s look at the relevant properties of a Microsoft 365 group/team created from the Teams desktop or browser client:

Get-UnifiedGroup -Identity "Planning Events" | fl HiddenFromExchangeClientsEnabled, 
HiddenFromAddressListsEnabled, AlwaysSubscribeMembersToCalendarEvents

HiddenFromExchangeClientsEnabled       : True
HiddenFromAddressListsEnabled          : True
AlwaysSubscribeMembersToCalendarEvents : False

The meaning of these settings is as follows:

  • HiddenFromExchangeClientsEnabled is True, meaning that the group doesn’t show up in Exchange clients like Outlook and OWA.
  • HiddenFromAddressListsEnabled is also True, meaning that the group doesn’t appear in any Exchange Online address list like the GAL and OAB. People can still send email to the group via its SMTP address, but it’s invisible if you go looking in an address list.
  • AlwaysSubscribeMembersToCalendarEvents is False, meaning that members of the group do not receive notifications of calendar events. This option is more problematic, because it means that team members don’t receive invitations to channel meetings, even those scheduled with the channel calendar app. Many organizations like to distribution meeting invitations to team members. If you’re in this position and want this to happen for some or all teams, follow the instructions in this article.

By comparison, if we do the same for a Microsoft 365 group/team created from the Teams admin center, we see:

Get-UnifiedGroup -Identity "Teams Writing Group" | fl HiddenFromExchangeClientsEnabled, HiddenFromAddressListsEnabled, AlwaysSubscribeMembersToCalendarEvents

HiddenFromExchangeClientsEnabled       : False
HiddenFromAddressListsEnabled          : False
AlwaysSubscribeMembersToCalendarEvents : True

In other words, unless Microsoft updates the team creation process for the Microsoft 365 admin center, some teams will still be created will inconsistent settings.

Use the Graph!

All of this proves that the Teams developers can make sure that the settings of groups their interfaces create are consistent, but some work is needed to ensure that consistency applies across all of Microsoft 365. Perhaps that’s why MC238795recommends that organizations use the Teams Graph API to create new teams. The Teams PowerShell module is built on top of the Graph, so let’s see what happens when we run the New-Team cmdlet to create a team-enabled group:

$TeamId = (New-Team -DisplayName "Annual Conference Planners 2021" -MailNickName ConferencePlanners -Description "Team for conference planners" -Visibility Private -Classification Confidential -Owner James.Ryan@office365itpros.com -RetainCreatedGroup:$True)

Get-UnifiedGroup -Identity "ConferencePlanners" | fl HiddenFromExchangeClientsEnabled, HiddenFromAddressListsEnabled, AlwaysSubscribeMembersToCalendarEvents

HiddenFromExchangeClientsEnabled       : True
HiddenFromAddressListsEnabled          : True
AlwaysSubscribeMembersToCalendarEvents : False

Voila! The same result as creating a team using the Teams client and what will happen using the Teams admin center from mid-March.

Learnings

Microsoft’s update imposes consistency across team-enabled groups created using Teams interfaces (admin center, clients, PowerShell, and Graph). However, only new teams will follow the rules as Microsoft will not check and update settings for existing teams. It is easy to do some retrospective processing with a PowerShell script to check the setting of each team-enabled group and update the settings to the desired values (a modified version of the script described in this article will do the job).

Before you go and change anything, take a moment to consider if the settings chosen by Microsoft work well for your organization. Some organizations like to see teams listed in the GAL or to have team members receive calendar updates by email. Teams should work for you rather than the other way round, so make your own mind up.


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