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Microsoft Prepares To Flip Switch on Teams for Office 365 Users

As early as July 9, organizations with existing Office 365 Business or Office 365 ProPlus subscriptions could have the Teams collaboration app automatically activated for them by Microsoft.

According to a Friday announcement, unless IT pros take advance action to block the arrival of Teams, the application will get turned on automatically with the arrival of next Office update, namely Office version 1906 (or a later release). However, the exact date for the arrival of Teams will depend on which Office update "channel" an organization follows, as well as Microsoft's global deployment rollout plans.

Office for Mac users using version 16.21 or later have the option to get Office install package options that are either with or without Teams. Apparently, Teams isn't getting automatically delivered via the update process to existing Office for Mac users.

The delivery of Teams doesn't apply to users of so called "perpetual-license" Office 2019 products, such as Office Professional Plus 2019.

Teams Arrival Dates for Existing Subscribers
The details on when Teams will arrive for existing Office 365 subscribers are spelled out in Microsoft's document, "Deploy Microsoft Teams with Office 365 ProPlus." It's a must-read publication for IT pros.

Teams' arrival will depend on the Office 365 channel model that's followed. Some users of Office 365 Business or Office 365 ProPlus may get monthly Office feature updates. Those subscribers could get Teams as early as July 9, which will arrive with the Office version 1906 update.

A "monthly (targeted)" channel also exists, and those Office 365 Business or Office365 ProPlus subscribers will get Teams even earlier, per Microsoft's document.

If you're using Monthly Channel (Targeted), Teams will be added with an update to Version 1906 starting on approximately June 25, 2019.

Other Office 365 Business or Office 365 ProPlus subscribers may follow the "semiannual channel (targeted)" Office update cycle (feature updates twice per year). Those subscribers could get Teams turned on as early as Sept. 10.

Still other Office 365 Business or Office 365 ProPlus subscribers that follow the "semiannual channel" model for Office updates (feature updates twice per year) could get Teams turned on as early as January 2020.

Teams for New Installs
Microsoft's effort to turn on Teams for organizations may seem somewhat familiar. It was one of the "under-the-radar Office 365 changes" that was barely communicated by Microsoft back in January. However, back then, Microsoft's policy was to just turn on Teams for organizations that were newly installing Office 365 Business and Office 365 Business Premium editions.

Even though Office 365 Business subscribers don't have software use rights for Teams, the app was still getting turned on for new Office installs. The Teams version that gets turned on in those cases is the free one-year trial version, which is called the "Microsoft Teams Commercial Cloud Trial." The trial version was turned on even if it wasn't requested by IT departments. In addition, any end user has the ability to trigger downloading the Teams trial version, unless IT pros specifically block the ability of end users to install trial apps and services beforehand.

The new twist this time around is that Microsoft is turning on Teams via the update process for existing Office 365 Business and Office 365 ProPlus subscribers. Once again, Office 365 Business subscribers don't have use rights for Teams, so they will get the one-year trial version of Teams instead.

Blocking Teams
IT pros managing Office 365 Business or Office 365 ProPlus can block the arrival of Teams beforehand using Group Policy or the Office Deployment Tool (using the most recent version), according to Microsoft's document. The Office Deployment Tool is used to create XML-based configuration files. IT pros can add the line <ExcludeApp ID="Teams" /> within the XML markup to block Teams.

Microsoft's document includes many nuances to consider. For instance, if an Online Repair operation is done for Office 365, it could result in "Teams being installed" in some situations.

Group Policy has a setting called "Don't install Microsoft Teams with new installations or updates of Office" that can be used. It'll only take effect for Office 365 Business or Office 365 ProPlus installations that are at version 1905 or later. For IT pros using templates to make the Group Policy changes, Microsoft's document caution to "be sure you're using at least version 4873.1000 of the Administrative Template files (ADMX/ADML), which were released on June 13, 2019."

The Group Policy changes will block the addition of Teams in new Office 365 ProPlus installations and existing installations, as well as when end users do the installs. It'll block Teams after an Online Repair operation, too. It's also possible to do a Registry change to block Teams, as described in the document.

Once installed, Teams gets automatically updated "approximately every two weeks with new features and quality updates," depending on the update channel that's followed. The update process for Teams "is different than the update process for the other Offices apps, such as Word and Excel," the document added.

About the Author

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

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