Admins sigh as Microsoft pushes Teams changes – let everyone play!

The 'experience' will be available from mid-January, 2020

Microsoft has been alerting admins today to changes to its Microsoft Teams Exploratory "experience", which effectively allow users to sign up for a trial rather than requiring admins to grant the privileges.

A Message Center post explained that the MS Teams Commercial Cloud Trial is being replaced with "MS Teams Exploratory experience" which: "allows existing Azure Active Directory users in your organization who are not licensed for Microsoft Teams to initiate a trial of the product."

The roll-out begins in January 2020 and tenant admins will get an email informing them that a user has started a trial.

The post notes that while the "new experience is enabled by default... you can turn off that capability in your organization's settings."

An admin who emailed The Register welcomed the ability to switch permissions off but was worried that users would otherwise be signing up for services and applications willy-nilly.

He said: "Off by default would be the preference, or even better if they just didn't bother at all! TBH, it's offensive that they've shown such disregard for the role of admins who are supposed to be responsible for the proper management and protection of systems and the data they contain. Giving end users this kind of power is asking for trouble."

Microsoft is keen to get as many people on board with its shared working tools as possible in order to keep up the fight against Slack and other competitors.

The row echoed changes Microsoft recently made to Office 365 to allow users of its Power Platform to make their own purchases of some business intelligence applications without getting the nod from administrators.

Initially this would enable anyone with a company credit card to set up their own mini-admin centre to do their own billing and licensing of MS software. And it removed any ability for admins to control or configure user behaviour. Instead the software giant blithely suggesting that companies "update your training and documentation as appropriate."

Microsoft quickly U-turned in the face of customer feedback such as "Are you insane?", and granted admins the ability to switch off these self-service options on a per product basis. The days of iron-clad admin control over the minutiae of every application and device in use on an organisation's network are mostly over.

Shadow IT, or user self-service, depending on your viewpoint, is either the brave new way to improve user satisfaction or the bane of innocent admins' lives and their attempts to keep a modicum of control and compliance over corporate IT.

While most admins would still prefer that such options were left switched off until a business case has been made for them to turn them on, there is a strong temptation for software providers to boost user numbers by making the process easier.

As many commenters pointed out after our Power Platform story, users are quick to ask the IT department to help them when they buy hardware or software and then cannot get it to work properly. Although some pointed out that if IT did a better job of servicing business needs then no one would be off buying anything else anyway.

Microsoft's explanation of the changes is here.

There's a Reddit discussion of the issue here. ®

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