Teams Work to Teams Personal Chat Now Generally Available
Teams Work to Teams Personal Chat Now Generally Available
Joel Rollins

Teams Work to Teams Personal Chat Now Generally Available

Microsoft has made it easier for Teams users to communicate beyond their organization by allowing them to start a chat with any Teams users, including free personal Teams accounts.

Allowing connections to personal Teams accounts should help commercial Teams account owners connect to SMBs, many of which use Teams personal accounts for business, according to Microsoft. Since the feature also extends Teams to chat with external Teams commercial users, this should help Teams commercial customers strengthen ties with vendors and partners of all sizes, while potentially broadening its appeal for business-to-consumer communications.

Teams users can reach out to external contacts by entering the full email address or phone number of the contact they want to reach.

Users can also initiate a one-to-one chat or group chat with anyone who has a personal account without requiring "tenant switching", meaning to switch between a personal and commercial accounts or multiple tenants.

"Once the person you invited accepts the invitation, you can start a new 1:1 or group chat or even add them to an existing external group chat. This chat thread will appear alongside your other chats, no tenant switching is required to view the chat," Microsoft explains in a blogpost.

IT admins still have all the usual security controls and can disable chat with unmanaged Teams accounts in the admin portal. Microsoft emphasizes several protections that remain in place, even when external chat has been enabled. These include:
  • Explicit opt-in: end users are not shown messages unless they click to preview, are reminded of the risks of external chat, and are asked to explicitly accept or block the message request.
  • External badging: visible in both the chat list and chat header.
  • Spam checks: prior to an explicit 'accept', every message sent by a Teams personal account goes through runtime spam checks. If spam is detected, the chat message is not delivered.
  • Message limits: messages prior to an explicit 'accept' are limited to 10. Additional messages are not delivered.
  • Admin controls: robust controls at the tenant and user-level govern external access scenarios.
  • User's security: to help protect the user, we only display the name and email address, but no other identifiers like profile pictures.
  • Teams personal account users can manage their discoverability in their settings menu and opt out from being discoverable by other Teams users.

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