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Office 365 Teams Getting Client Support, App Controls

Microsoft is giving Office 365 Teams administrators more control over third-party applications, among other improvements the company announced this week.

Other enhancements include an Outlook desktop client add-in to help with scheduling Microsoft Teams meetings, as well as added mobile applications support.

Teams 'Apps' Controls
Microsoft Teams, which provides user access to meetings, messages and Skype calls, was turned on for Office 365 business subscribers back in March. It's available but turned off by default for Office 365 education tenancies.

The Microsoft Teams user interface has "tabs" that can be used with "connectors" to connect with other services, bots and applications. Back in March, Microsoft had indicated that around "150 integrations" with Teams connectors would be coming. The software that can be enabled through the tabs can be Microsoft's applications, as well as applications built by other software companies ("third party" applications), which are available from the Microsoft Teams app catalog. It's also possible for internally built applications to be "sideloaded" to Microsoft Teams for testing purposes.

This week, Microsoft promised that three new controls will be arriving for IT pros, which will add management controls over these Teams "apps." The controls, when available, can be used to carry out the following tasks:

  • Allow or block all third-party apps
  • Choose the apps to allow or block
  • Select actions to take when new apps get submitted to the Teams app catalog

The new controls "will be live in the next few days," Microsoft's announcement noted.

Typically, IT pros manage Microsoft Teams via the Office 365 Admin Center portal. Microsoft's announcement noted that it has renamed the "Tab and Bots" section in the portal to "Apps." When an app gets disabled using the new controls, it will disappear from the Teams tab user interface, Microsoft explained.

Outlook Add-In
Microsoft also recently announced that its Outlook messaging client application is getting a new button labeled, "New Teams Meeting." When clicked, it invites users to a meeting, which will show up in their Outlook and Teams calendars.

The new functionality is currently limited to invitations within an Office 365 tenancy. It doesn't extend invites to external users. Moreover, it just works for Windows users now, but "support for Mac is coming," Microsoft's announcement indicated.

The New Teams Meeting add-in won't work if an authentication proxy exists in a network. It's also just designed to send invites for "meetings with specific participants, not for meetings in a channel." For meetings in a channel, users should use the Teams interface, Microsoft's announcement explained.

The new add-in will arrive automatically for Microsoft Teams users that have Office 2013 or Office 2016 installed on Windows devices. Its use requires that end users sign into Microsoft Teams via so-called "modern authentication," which Microsoft defines as Office 356 "sign-ons based on the Azure Active Directory Authentication Library."

Mobile App Support
Microsoft also recently announced added mobile application support for the Microsoft Teams service. New Microsoft Teams mobile apps for Android and iOS devices permit the establishment of both "private and channel meetings."

The mobile applications support both audio and HD video connections. New participants can be added during a meeting, and users have access to tabbed resources. They can also view and edit Office files using the mobile apps, as well as interact with bots, or they can search for conversations or files.

The mobile apps are accessible from the Microsoft Teams download page here. The Android Teams app requires Android 4.4 and higher. The iOS Teams app is supported using iOS 10.0 or higher.

About the Author

Kurt Mackie is senior news producer for the 1105 Enterprise Computing Group.