Now in Preview for Teams Desktop with Browser Support Soon
On September 17, Microsoft announced the availability of the Teams chat quoted reply feature for chat messages for users configured to use Teams public preview (the cool kids with the P beside their user photo). The announcement is also covered in Microsoft 365 message center notification MC285886 (roadmap item 81113), which says that the feature roll-out starts in mid-September and should be complete in early October.
The preview announcement covers preview availability for the Teams desktop clients (Windows, Mac, and Linux) with the promise that quoted replies will soon be available for the Teams browser clients. MC285886 only covers the Teams desktop clients.
My reading is that the preview announcement is for people who want to use quoted replies early before general availability reaches their tenant. Don’t worry about using quoted replies before everyone else in your tenant has access to the feature. Other people will be able to read quoted replies (including in browser clients) even if they can’t send one back to you.
The Usefulness of Quoted Replies
A quoted reply is a concept familiar to users of other chat apps or indeed, email, where it’s long been possible to include some or all the content of a previous message in a response. According to Microsoft, a quoted reply “is a great way to add context and clarity with who you are conversing with whether it is a recent message or from one earlier in the conversation.”
Given the usefulness of quoted replies and the demand for the feature expressed by customers, it’s surprising that it’s taken Microsoft quite so long to introduce it in Teams on all platforms. For instance, WhatsApp has had quoted replies since June 2016. In passing, it’s nice to see that the Teams engineering group continues to respond to customers in Teams User Voice despite Microsoft’s decision to withdraw from the User Voice platform last March.
Quoted replies is limited to Teams chat. It’s available in 1:1, group, and meeting chat but not in channel conversations. Quoted replies have been available in the Teams mobile clients for a couple of months (Figure 1).
Composing Teams Chat Quoted Replies
To create a quoted reply, choose a message in a chat and select Reply from the […] menu (Figure 2). You can select any message you like from a chat, including those containing non-text content.
Teams extracts a snippet of about 200 text characters from the selected message and inserts it into the compose screen (aka reply text box) (Figure 3). You can then add whatever information you want to the reply before sending. Usually, this is some commentary on the original message. However, you can’t edit or add to the text inserted by Teams.
When the recipient reads the quoted reply, they see the inserted text plus your comments (Figure 4).
Clicking the quoted text brings the user to the original message in the thread. To make this navigation possible, Teams stores a link to the original message in the reply (but doesn’t display it). Navigation to the original only works for text messages. If you create a quoted reply for a message containing non-text information, like a pasted graphic, GIF, or adaptive card (like those generated by the Teams approvals app), navigation back to the original message might not be possible. In addition, the overall impact of the quoted reply isn’t quite what you expect because the recipient has no context about the original message (Figure 5).
Usually, Teams sends messages in HTML format. Quoted replies sent to federated Skype consumer or Skype for Business users are in plain text because federation doesn’t support HTML interconnectivity.
Figure 6 shows an example of the HTML content captured in compliance records for quoted replies, including the identifier for the original message in the thread.
Because the compliance records capture the snippet of text inserted by Teams, eDiscovery searches find both the original messages and any quoted replies which match the search query. Figure 7 shows a quoted reply as displayed in the sample results retrieved by a content search.
So Long Coming but Very Welcome
Quoted replies is one of those small but useful features which make a difference. Once you start using it, you’ll wonder (again) why Microsoft took so long to include the feature and understand why many users resorted to manual workarounds (like this one) to create the effect. But let’s not complain too much. Quoted replies are now part of the Teams landscape. Let’s be grateful for that and move forward.
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