A Teams Calendar Event Without an Online Presence
In message center notification MC535261 (30 March, Microsoft 365 roadmap item 122483) Microsoft promised that Teams offline meetings would appear in late May 2023. And true to their word, the new feature has turned up on time. GCC, GCC-High and DoD tenants will see the software in early July. Offline meetings are only supported for Teams private (or personal) meetings (not channel meetings).
New feature is an overstatement. The Outlook calendar, and before that, Schedule+, have scheduled offline meetings without a hitch for nearly 30 years. An offline Teams meeting is exactly like a non-online meeting or appointment scheduled in Outlook. It’s a calendar event without any properties pointing to an associated online meeting space and all the other items used with meetings, like the chat, attendance report, and recaps. These items make an online Teams meeting what it is. You don’t need an online space to create space in your calendar for personal commitments, lunch catch-ups, or most importantly, in-person meetings, which is why Teams can now create non-online events.
Creating an Offline Teams Meeting
The default for Teams meeting continues to be online events. To create an offline Teams meeting, go ahead and create a meeting as normal and set the online meeting toggle to off (Figure 1).
This action signals to Teams that it doesn’t need to set up the online meeting space or any of the other objects associated with a meeting. In effect, the event is exactly like appointments created through Outlook. This impression is confirmed when examining the properties of a Teams offline meeting through Outlook or by using a utility program like MFCMAPI.
For in-person meetings, add the required attendees and choose a location. You can protect the meeting with a sensitivity label, which works just like it does for Outlook meetings.
To turn an offline meeting into an online meeting, switch the online meeting toggle to on and save the meeting. Teams recognizes that the event has moved online, creates the online meeting space, and updates the meeting with details of how to join the event.
Why Introduce Teams Offline Meetings Now?
Some might ask why Microsoft is adding non-online meetings to Teams nearly seven years after the product introduction. One reason might be that it’s logical to want to set aside time in calendars for events that cannot run online. The assumption that everything can be done in an online meeting is patently false and building this assumption into Teams was incorrect.
But I think that user feedback is behind the change (even if the proposal in the Teams feedback portal didn’t attract many votes). People don’t work with Outlook as heavily as they once did. They spend more time in Teams and having to switch focus to go to Outlook to schedule a personal appointment (which then shows up quite happily in the Teams calendar) is a nonsense. It just makes sense to allow the Teams calendar to schedule events that don’t happen online.
Sometimes the simplest changes have the greatest impact. This change is a simple change because it doesn’t introduce any new concepts and builds on software that’s already well-known. Even so, this is a welcome change that reduces the friction of moving between Teams and Outlook to perform a relatively simple task. And there’s goodness in that, which is something you can’t say about every update Microsoft introduces into Microsoft 365.
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