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Take a Conversation from Outlook to Teams
Message center notification MC238648 published on February 9 said that Microsoft would update the Share to Teams feature. The update dutifully appeared on schedule during the last week of March. This feature is covered by Microsoft 365 roadmap items 71265, 70598, and 68909 because it is available in Outlook for Windows (Microsoft 365 apps for enterprise – March monthly channel), OWA, and Outlook for Mac (preview). The feature is not yet available for Outlook mobile.
The idea behind Share to Teams is simple. People receive a lot of email that they would like to discuss with colleagues. They could conduct the discussion in email with the known downsides of interminable series of to-and-fro replies, not all of which might be circulated to the same people. Taking the discussion to Teams keeps focus and makes sure that everyone sees the discussion developing and can contribute as needed.
Share to Teams Target Destinations
Launched in 2020, Share to Teams uses the same email connector infrastructure used to support the ability to send email to a channel. This is a connector which uses cloud-only mailboxes to accept inbound email addressed to channels and deliver them to Teams. In the case of Share to Teams, the addressee can be:
- A person (the message is delivered to a personal chat). The sender must be able to send a message to the person (information barrier policies can block people communicating via chat).
- A group chat: If you share a message from Outlook to multiple users, Teams delivers the message to the group chat involving those users (if one exists) or otherwise creates a new group chat.
- Any channel that the sender can access, including private channels. You cannot share to multiple channels at one time.
In all cases, messages can be sent with attachments.
Figure 1 shows a typical example. In this instance, we’re sharing a message from Outlook to a Teams channel.
Figure 2 shows what the shared message looks like in Teams. As you can see, it looks like any other base note for a conversation. Replies can be posted as normal. The only jarring note is that Teams does not highlight the subject of the conversation to make the topic stand out better in a list of topics.
You must be signed into your home tenant to be able to post messages to Teams. If you’re signed in as a guest to another tenant, Teams will tell you that you need to switch before it can post.
Capturing Message Copies in SharePoint Online and OneDrive for Business
Apart from messages delivered to target destinations, like email sent to channels, a copy of the shared message (including attachments) is captured in the Email Messages folder in the channel folder in the document library of the SharePoint Online team site. This is the way that the email connector used to behave until February 2021. Now, messages sent to a channel go into a folder named for the month, like EmailMessages_4_2021 for messages sent in April 2021. The change in target folder annoyed many people because it broke some Flows, and inconsistency like this drives people up the wall across Teams is maddening.
Copies of messages shared with individuals or group chats are in the Microsoft Teams Chat Files folder of the sender’s OneDrive for Business account.
No Protected Email
You can’t select the Share to Teams option for messages protected with sensitivity labels, the standard Outlook Encrypt-Only or Do Not Forward options, or S/MIME. This is because the connector cannot remove the encryption which protects these messages.
When you share an Outlook message to Teams, the add-in checks for the presence of the Teams desktop client. If it’s available, the add-in uses single sign-on (SSO) to launch a new window in the Teams client to compose the message details for sharing. This is the major difference between the old method and the new. Creating a window in an already connected Teams client is faster and creates less overhead than the alternative, which is for Outlook to do the work to connect to Teams and send the message.
Microsoft says that Share to Teams is controllable “by selectively enabling or disabling this add-in for individual users via PowerShell Cmdlet. Admin documentation will be published soon.” Although Microsoft is promising that a cmdlet will be available, I’m not sure if many tenants will want to disable Share to Teams. It’s not a function that I used often, but I am grateful that it’s there when I need it. I suspect most other organizations will be in the same category.
This refresh won’t make much difference to users. It’s a improvement in software engineering that will bypass most, but that’s not a reason to ignore the development and update a paragraph in the Office 365 for IT Pros eBook. It’s what we do.