Teams is an online collaborative communication environment where members of an organization can have real-time conversations, share files and plan meetings through video chat. In the next ca 10 posts we will deep dive into teams, we’ll start by seeing how users can access Teams on the web or with the desktop application. We’ll see how you can organize your coworkers into teams and initiate conversations that all team members can contribute to. We’ll see how to share files and even edit certain files in collaboration with your teammates. Then we’ll use the search tool to find specific information from all of your team conversations. We’ll look at extra optional features for bringing information from outside web services into your conversations and we’ll explore settings for both users and administrators. I will walk you through a complete Microsoft Teams deployment with clear instructions and screenshots.
Microsoft Teams Versions and licenses
Every user needs a license to access Teams. Teams is not available to users who have standalone Office 365 subscriptions, like Exchange Online Plan 2. In fact, these users can’t even join teams as guest users because Office 365 considers them to be part of the same organization that hosts the teams and therefore aren’t guests. Microsoft Teams is available in these versions:
Paid Version – This is the version that is included in Office 365 subscription. If you have any of these subscription plans you will be able to use teams:
- Small Business Plan
- Enterprise Plan
- Education Plan
- Developer Plan
Difference in Paid Office 365 Plans. If you have Enterprise subscription you will be able to use Teams with the Phone System. Enterprise plans are the only one that can be used with it.
Free – This is for the users who don’t have Office 365 subscription. The free version is available for organizations up to 300 users and supports chats, audio calling, guest user access, the Office Online apps, and includes 10 GB of storage for files within channels (SharePoint Online) and 2 GB per user (OneDrive for Business) for personal storage. The main reason why Microsoft introduced a free version of Microsoft Team was to pull as many people away from competitive services like Slack as possible. Usually, when a company offers a free version of their software to consumers, the aim is to hook people with a taste of the product, then gradually convince them to unlock the full potential of the platform.
Trial – This version is for users that have office 365 account but without license. Existing customers who don’t have a Teams license as part of their Office 365 or Microsoft plan will be eligible for a 1 year free trial of the enterprise version.
Microsoft Teams depend on many other Office 365 services. When you create a new team you’ll get a corresponding Office 365 group, which includes a group inbox and calendar in Outlook, a SharePoint site (to hold files), and OneNote.
Microsoft Teams Structure
A team can have up to 5,000 members. It is designed to bring together a group of people who work closely to get things done. Teams can be dynamic for project-based work (for example, launching a product, creating a digital war room), as well as ongoing, to reflect the internal structure of your organization (for example, departments and office locations). Conversations, files and notes across team channels are only visible to members of the team (There is a new feature called Private channels which we will discuss in later post).
The basic structure for a team is a set of channels that give members a framework to organize conversations (discussions composed of “persistent” chats) and other relevant information, activities, and applications. Channels are dedicated sections within a team to keep conversations organized by specific topics, projects, disciplines whatever works for your team! Files that you share in a channel (on the Files tab) are stored in SharePoint. All team members can see everything in a channel, so if you want to keep something private, you must do so in a personal chat (As I mentioned above, there is a new feature called private channels which we will cover in a later post). Only the people involved in a personal chat can see what goes on there.
When you give access to someone, that person gain access to all the resources available to the team and only team members can see the content in the team. If you leave a team, you lose access to all resources.
Microsoft Teams Membership and Roles
When you create a new team, office 365 group will also be created as well and teams use Office 365 Groups to manage membership and adopts the same basic structure of owners who manage the team and members who take part in the team.
- OWNERS — People who create new teams. Team owners can make any member of their team (except a guest) a co-owner when they invite them to the team or at any point after they’ve joined the team. Having multiple team owners lets you share the responsibilities of managing settings and membership, including invitations.
- MEMBERS — The people who the owners invite to join their team
Team owners can manage team-wide settings directly in Microsoft Teams like adding a team picture, set permissions across team members for creating standard and private channels etc. If you are a Microsoft Teams administrator in Office 365, you have access to system-wide settings in the Microsoft Teams admin center. These settings can impact the options and defaults team owners see under team settings.
If your organization has no more than 5,000 users, you can create an org-wide team. Org-wide teams provide an automatic way for everyone in an organization to be a part of a single team for collaboration.
This is just a short introduction and we will explore each section in detail as we dig deeper.
ACCESS MICROSOFT TEAMS
Office 365 account gives you access to the full version of Teams (and enterprise version is the focus of the discussion here) and lots of other services as well. There is also a free version of Teams, but we’re going to look at that in a separate post. So if you have your Office 365 account, you can browse to portal.office.com and sign in. You will see a bunch of links to different Office 365 services and one of these buttons here should be for Teams. (If you want a shortcut, you can go directly teams.microsoft.com)
Now you may see this screen which is basically recommending that you download the desktop application, but if you prefer to use the web interface, you can just click the link that says use web app instead and that will take you to the Teams interface.
As I said, the website is not the only place to access Teams. There’s also a desktop application as well. If you did not see that screen prompting you to download the desktop application, you could go to the main menu by clicking this icon in the top right corner and then you should see a link here to download the desktop application.
I already have the desktop application downloaded and installed, so I’m going to launch it. In windows you’ll find it under this folder labeled Microsoft Corporation and then you can click on that to open up Teams. (Usually when you download and install Teams the teams icon will be created on the desktop)
You will notice that the web and desktop application interface is nearly identical.Let’s take a quick look around.
On the left we see this sidebar which is very important. That’s where you see some buttons that take you to the different sections in the Teams interface. We’re going to spend some time with most of these, but chat, teams, and meetings are where most people will spend their time.
Middle section will give us option to create new teams or to join a team with a code. If you don’t see the option to create a new team contact your administrator. If limited by policy, users cannot create new Teams because of the dependency on Groups.
Up at the top right corner of the window, you should see icon that you can click on to open up the settings menu. Here you go to sign out of your account if you need to do that, and there are a bunch of settings that you can adjust, but we’ll cover those later in future posts.
This bar at the top is used to query apps or perform a search in Teams.
Few things to keep in mind. Teams desktop app does not support offline capability and needs an internet connection to work, which can downgrade performance and experience if we try to use Teams in for ex airplane. From a practical perspective, the internet connection needs to be reasonable in terms of both latency and bandwidth. When it comes to updates the teams desktop client is self-updating and users do not have to exit the client before an update proceeds.
This is the first step in our journey. Next post will cover Free version of Microsoft Teams.