Microsoft Teams users can now use the popular collaboration and conferencing tool to chat with any Teams user outside their organization, including with personal account users.
The company first previewed this ability at its annual Ignite event in November and rolled the feature out to users this week.
“It takes a lot of communication to make your business run—collaboration with coworkers, sharing with partners, follow ups with vendors, and outreach to customers,” the company wrote in a Tech Community blog. “Microsoft Teams offers secure solutions to collaborate with external parties, and with Microsoft Teams Connect we are making it even easier to work with anyone outside your organization. Teams empowers commercial users to chat with commercial users in other organizations. Building on this, we are enabling you to chat with team members outside your organization,”
According to the company, users can invite any Teams user to chat by entering their full email address or phone number and start a 1:1 group chat with anyone with a Microsoft personal account without switching the tenant. Corporate account users can start conversations with persona account users, and vice versa.
To do this, Teams users managed by an organization can invite personal account users by entering their email or phone number, and personal account users can enter the email of the corporate user they want to reach.
If the person being invited is not a Teams user, they will receive an email or text inviting them to join using a personal account. They will be able to join the chat after registering and signing into their personal account.
Once the recipient accepts the invitation, the sender can start a new 1:1 or group chat, or even add them to an existing external group chat. The chat thread will appear alongside other chats, so no tenant switching is required.
Both Teams users managed by and organization and personal account users can decline external invitations. An external user can be messaged up to 10 times before they accept, but if the message is not accepted after 10 messages, no additional messages can be sent, according to Microsoft.
The feature also comes with controls for IT admins and Teams personal account users to enable security. For IT admins, the feature comes with granular tools to control external access, including the ability to enable or disable users in the organization to chat with external Teams personal accounts users. They can also do the same for inbound chat requests from Teams personal account users.
Admins can use the admin portal to disable this function altogether, but the feature comes with more safety features designed to protect the security of the organization, including an explicit opt-in when receiving chats from outside the organization, external badging, spam checks, message limits, and other admin controls, Microsoft said in the blog.