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View Teams and Outlook Messages in Search Results
Microsoft Search and the results it delivers to users are in a state of constant flux. This is usually a good thing because it means that Microsoft is upgrading search capabilities to help users find information more effectively. Sometimes, things get out of step, and you can see extra results in one place that don’t appear in another. A little consideration usually comes up with a reason why this is so.
Take the example of the Messages vertical that Microsoft has added to Office.com. When you search from Office.com, the results include Teams and Outlook messages (Figure 1). In search parlance, the set of results exposed by the messages tab is referred as a “search vertical.” You can add custom search verticals to SharePoint search, but not to Office.com.
The Teams messages come from both chats and channel conversations. Selecting a Teams or Outlook message uses a deeplink to bring you to the source loaded in the Teams client or OWA.
Microsoft Search trims the search results so that users only see information from resources they have permission to access.
Why Messages from Deleted Teams Appear in Search Results
Sometimes search results resurrect messages from deleted groups. Take the second message listed in Figure 1, which comes from a conversation in the Project Athena group (a team). Selecting this message does nothing because it doesn’t have a deeplink to bring it to the source conversation.
Some investigation found that the team doesn’t exist anymore. I deleted the team since the conversation happened in 2018. However, the messages persist because the team came within the scope of a hold imposed by a retention policy. Microsoft Search relies on the compliance records the Microsoft 365 substrate captures for Teams chats and channel conversations, and these records remain in mailboxes until the retention period for the policy lapses. Therefore, the conversation remains available for search to find while the deeplink pointing to the source conversation is unavailable.
Microsoft Search in Bing
The interesting thing is that the ability to return messages in search results isn’t available in SharePoint search. You might expect this to happen because it’s a search for Microsoft 365 data. However, it’s a search of SharePoint resources, so the results only cover the information available to SharePoint Online and OneDrive for Business. Personally, I think Search should deliver the same results in SharePoint Search as it does in Office.com, even if SharePoint Online doesn’t manage the items found. The lines between applications continue to blur and it seems strange to have artificial barriers where they’re not needed.
Where messages do turn up is in search results from Bing.com if you configure Microsoft search in Bing through the Search & Intelligence section of Org settings in the Microsoft 365 admin center. In effect, when you do this, you connect Microsoft 365 content to Bing to expose “work” results alongside results for internet sources. Accessing the work tab exposes results from different Microsoft 365 sources, including messages (Figure 2).
This capability has been available for at least six months. At least, we updated the coverage about Microsoft Search in the Office 365 for IT Pros eBook about six months ago to report its availability!
Loop Components in Search Results
While looking at the various results now available through Microsoft Search, I noticed that Loop components show up. I probably missed this in the past but felt that it’s worth noting that even though Loop components pose some eDiscovery challenges, the information in the components is fully indexed and discoverable as evident in the first two search results shown in Figure 3.
There’s nothing surprising here because the Loop components in Teams chats (and soon in OWA messages) exist as files in OneDrive for Business.
Nice to See Messages in Search
Given the amount of data people now store in the cloud, effective search facilities are increasingly important. Adding the new search vertical for messages to Office.com is very useful. It’s just a pity that the same capabilities aren’t available elsewhere.