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Teams - JUST the Chat and nothing but the Chat

Microsoft Teams is a great tool for collaboration and a one-stop shop for your SharePoint and OneDrive files, calendar, and meetings.  It is a chat-driven collaboration tool, but what if you JUST want to use Teams as a chat application within your company?

Let's start with the assumption that we have an Office 365 tenant and that our users have both an Exchange Online mailbox and a provisioned OneDrive for Business.  Without these technologies, our users wouldn't be able to have chat messages persisted or share files with each other.

A Teams administrator can turn off many of the Teams services to give you a pretty bare bones chat application.  In the Office 365 Admin Center, under Settings > Services and add-ins, you can disable the ability for default and external apps which will limit the extensibility of the tool.   From there, it's a matter of setting a few policies in the Teams and Skype Admin Center.

  • Messaging Policy (choose to keep the fun on or kill it, but the Chat selector should stay on or we kinda lose the whole point 😁)

  • Meeting Policy (All of this stuff will be turned off.  In fact, there is an "AllOff" policy that's already created that you can apply instead of the default)

  • Live Events Policy (in the same area as meetings, but more stuff to turn off)
  • A few other settings in Teams Settings > Files will allow us to hide all other options except for OneDrive for Business.

The result?

In the Teams client (web, desktop, and/or mobile), we should find the following:  

  1. The activity icon stays and will let us know when we've been mentioned, etc.
  2. The chat icon will remain, but "Meet Now" will be gone.  The ability to call someone that you initiate a private chat with remains.
  3. The Teams icon stays, and will never go away.  All users will be able to create a new Team unless the ability to create O365 groups has been altered (Check out the PowerShell here)
  4. The Meetings icon sticks around but the button to create a new Teams meeting disappears.  This essentially becomes a viewer for your Outlook calendar.
  5. The Files icon will let our users see Recents, Teams files, or a link to their OneDrive