Office 365 Groups vs. Microsoft Teams blog post

Loryan Strant

There’s still a lot of confusion around Office 365 Groups and how they work with Microsoft Teams, so I’ve partnered with the team at AvePoint to write a post about how they work together.

The post covers confusion around product names, integrations, and scenarios where users would find challenges around creating both of them.

The AvePoint team also created a great infographic covering the 4 considerations before rolling out Microsoft Teams.

Check it out here!

86 Replies

Good stuff, I literally cannot imagine rolling out Teams without having a firm grip on Groups, more power to the people that do, but it seems like a disaster waiting to happen.

Martha I have no idea what I meant to write there.


This is a great article. A must read!

The article does a good job explaining the shortfall of the groups/teams story.  Unfortunatly does very little to explain how to actually make use of both at simotaniously.  In real world this has become a huge mess.  Forcing us to not only not adopt teams but we ended op dropping groups.  Opting for slack instead, and becasue slack has por microsoft integration, we are now task with a migration to google g suite.

That's true, but there's only so much that can be conveyed in a single article or even in written form.
The reality is that the way to make use of both is case by case, both at an organisational level as well as each department, group and team.
I work with a number of customers on the journey of productivity transformation in which we apply a customised roadmap and strategy - not one-size-fits-all.
I do feel that certain elements of groups should be able to be suppressed so "team" owners can choose a-la-carte what they want to use - and that functionality is coming at some point.
I sure hope so. My biggest challenge is the overlap between the email chat of groups and the chat of teams.

Everything else is easily managed ounce configured.

I am not certain how best to fix the chat/conversation issue. Some groups can accept email from the outside so need the email portion perhaps it is just user training to direct the internal team to use the team chat but so far this is proving difficult.

More half-baked solutions from Microsoft that provide confusion for their customers.


Why create a whole new 'product' rather than just enabling persistent chat in the existing O365 Groups? That's supposedly what groups is right? A placeholder that connects you to different services.


Well. I think teams is looking nice and it's looking like a nice ui for the entire groups experience. Nicest UI/UX to come from MS in a long time. It really should have been how groups was introduced. Groups through outlook and the mobile groups app is painful.

Persistent communication does exist in Groups but it's all email based which most organizations are trying to move away from. Truthfully, I wish they never rolled that out. Groups should have just been the background membership that links all the different products together instead of membership plus a form of communication. Hopefully they'll remove it at some point in the near future to simplify their offerings and remove some bloat from Outlook.

I couldn't agree more. Groups should have been the background membership that connected resource. They should have left the UI/UX out of outlook, except a way to see the group calendar and tasks, since that is an outlook/exchange resource anyway. And they should have had teams be the main UI/UX entry.

The issue that has to be worked out is the email of course. I can see why you would want a mail-enabled group. Especially, from external people who are not technically part of the group. Just call it an group inbox. Don't try to make it feel like a chat adding @mentions and all this other inline media options, etc.
Disagree with the statement of most organizations trying to move away from email. Email is about the only constant that is left IMO. It will present the same futile argument as "trying to move away from folders in SharePoint". That's where I see the beauty in Groups conversations, you are basically tricking end-users into using more modern functionality under the guise of email that they know and love and USE.

I (and my users) have a harder time distinguishing between persistent chat and the group inbox. How different are they "REALLY"?

Things do need to be simplified. IMO, the unification is simply this:
- The conversation is the same (Group inbox + Yammer + main Team Chat), it doesnt matter which interface you use, you SEE the exact same threads of discussion
- Choice is in the tool you use to access the unified Conversation, not in the Conversation within different tools
- Teams can introduce sub-conversations, but don't recreate a Group-level conversation
I agree email and group inbox should stay. But is should stay clearly email. The chat functionality they tried to implement cannot be as functional as it could with a pure chat system. Since group inbox has to keep compatibility with non-outlook email clients that communicate with the group inbox.

To to your point. I sincerely hope MS will not unify the conversation between group inbox and teams. I would hate to see teams take a step back and become another bloated email client. And please keep yammer separate. Or give people the choice to integrate. So my team doesn't even need to know yammer exists.

As far as choice of tools to see the conversation. I personally like the separation of concerns. Email over on this end. Team collaboration over here. Email is how you communicate ideas to the world outside of you teams. if you integrate you unnecessarily clutter each business concern.

As far as the team sub-conversations this is how it works today. Aside from the group inbox not being part of the team channel.

If the do implement as you suggest I hope the allow some users to disable the general channel in teams (the one that would most likely share the group conversation). And then allow us to disable the chat features of the group conversations to make it a simple everyday mailbox.

It feels like Microsoft is launching products with no overarching vision. No product manager to look across the full spectrum.


Groups and Teams are so similar any reasonable person would assume they are competitive, not complementary. And they both seem to mimic Yammer. 


In the meantime, real people are creating all the duplication and rabbit holes the authors feared. Organizations who try to use this stuff suffer greatly. People start fighting. Important information gets lost (where "lost" means a person who needs it cannot find it in the time required.)


My suggestion: hire a product manager to coordinate, filter, and edit the various products your people are building in isolation. And feel free to kill the products that don't survive. Just provide tools for moving stuff from those dying products to the surviving products. 

It's a very pretty article with some pretty graphics but it is just a sycophantic let's say everything is OK by saying everything is OK. It makes no real suggestion as to how to coexist which, is of course the problem. If teams could see everything that groups did that might work.

Email is not dead and external users will still use it even when your team decides to use teams fro all. A tab called "mailbox" or something in teams migt help.

But for now it's a confusing disaster for most organisations who have started using groups and a graphic of two cooperating superheroes does nothing to improve the situation.


What do I do if some users prefer the outlook interface and create files and comments there.? (Adding outlook files as a FB in teams is agood hint (no details though) and the Pollyanna "let's be postive" that apart era who wants the work is forced to adopt it doesn't even query why n Earth the bit of code that "converts" an existing group to a team doesn't offer to do this I.e. Add a team tab called outlook group files (that migt at least help some users get some clue around the baffling disconnect).


THis very much has a "come back in a year when we have decided what we are actually going to do" feel to it.

Sorry but in 30+ years I have been around Microsft (many of them internally) they've never been much good at a clear story.

I remember the launch of Windows (v1) in which the product team said it was the future and that all programmes would now develop for Windows; followed shortly by the launch of  a new version of Word that didn't run in Windows and the corntortions that team went through to make this sound like a good thing. (Groove, modern apps, oblige etc.  the list of confusing products where other bits of MS cclearly have not bought in, is huge).


I share the pain with what is being said here. The infographic is a perfect example of the meaningless hype around Office 365 and the reality that it is a confusing morass of functionality that our customers, now used to the ease of use of consumer grade software apps in their persoanl lives struggle with when they walk into work and have to start working with O365.


Just ask how many people love working with Microsoft solutions in their personal lives. Answer . . . big fat zero.


By now Office365 should be a beautiful thing. It isn't and Microsoft need to smash some senior heads together to take responsibility for delivering a solution that is intuitive. Left too long we are going to see our customers depart for alternative solutions.




Here's another way to look at it. This is just a snapshot; review the full infographic for more info.O365 Twitter Post.png





This just highlights the issue to me.  There is so much overlap and there is no way to discover things within the overlap.  


Espesially with the conversations. the only way this seems to work is if everyone is check every office tool Outlook/Teams/Yammer. on a regular basis.


The fact is you can draw these types of infographics all you want but it doesn't help users in the reall world use the tools.  It is flat out not intuitive how these tools fit together and how they interop with one another.

Can you juggle these three messaging platform in your personal life, and understand when to use which one?




Facebook Messenger

Much more useful than the what was originally posted - the silly superhero thing.


But I see loads "wrong" with this still and if you can bear with me I'll explain:


I think the premise that outlook groups is not an app is hardly helped by the fact that I can, today, go the Apple App Store, the Windows Store and the various Android store and download an app called Outlook Groups. Why wouldn't anyone think that Outlook groups are an app - clearly Microsoft do.

Try this https://www.microsoft.com/en-us/store/p/outlook-groups/9nblggh1pbr5 (but someone needs to change the button from "Get the app" to "Get the NOT app" otherwise those of us who have posted here that the whole implementation is currently rather baffling and nothing like the well planned universe of the infographic might feel their point is made.

Oh and the group landing in page in outlook also encourages you get the GROUP APP for these platforms. (Confused - you will be). [I get the technical point but it makes a fine distinction as to what an apps is and impossible one for most users to appreciate. App is not a well defined word in the first place.]

On the info graphic text I have a couple of suggestions of additional text that might make things clearer: [#, $. ! * are all footnotes see below for more info]

Outlook Group

When you create an Outlook Group, you get:

  1. An Outlook email inbox to record conversations between Group members;
  2. A shared Outlook calendar to post events and appointments that affect Group members;
  3. A SharePoint site collection (which you access through the Files tab) * bafflingly this is not the same a files tab that will appear in teams if you also create a team at the same time as or based on the group;
  4. A OneNote notebook (which actually lives in your SharePoint site collection);
  5. A Plan in Planner; # bafflingly this plan does not appear as a plan in the team of the same name [perhaps the user is beginning to see pattern at last - same item name, same team/group name but not actually the same thing!] This happens even if you create the team and create a group as a coincidental part of this process. Even more confusingly although this a plan belongs to an "outlook group" you can't actually see this in Outlook in any case and have to use a program called Mail from the SharePoint waffle. (Don't use teams as this automatically created group plan won't appear there at all!)
  6. A Power BI workspace (if you have premium Power BI licenses for all members).

Team Chat

When you create a Team, you get:

  1. A Teams chat for communicating;
  2. A Teams wiki for collecting notes and knowledge; [Confusingly OneNote in Outlook! - although I personally think this is more useful than a wiki]
  3. A SharePoint site collection (which you access through the Files tab) * bafflingly this has nothing to do with the File tab that will be created simultaneously in the corresponding outlook group despite the tab name and group/team name being the same! [Obviously they are in different collections, Oh stupid user!]
  4. A OneNote notebook (which you have to add as a new tab if you want quick access because the wiki is meant to replace this);
  5. A Plan in Planner; # but only if you create it and not the same one as you get with the outlook group (even if you can't see it in outlook)
  6. A Power BI workspace (if you have premium Power BI licenses for all members);
  7. An Outlook email inbox to record conversations between Group members; and % but not team members
  8. A shared Outlook calendar to post events and appointments that affect Group members. ~ Baffling for any user who think they are getting the hang of the same name, same group/team name but different content this IS the same calendar as the team sees and, is thus the only same content. The fact that the infographic describes it in the same way without making this point is hardly helpful to the typical user.

* By baffling I meant that from a users point of view I have a team called "production" which has a teams chat etc. in an "app" and a group called the same thing in outlook/ One has a tab called files (with a SharePoint modern view where I and team members can put and share files) whereas the other has a tab called files (with a SharePoint modern view where I and team members can put and share 

files) - but they are not the same place. So when a colleague say I have put it on the files tab fro production I have to have enough knowledge to either know there are two and look in both places (or someone has to put the outlook tab into the teams system) or I have to guess which tool the other guy might have used e.g. outlook or an app. God knows what happens if two users create the same filename with similar contents in each location - presumably everyone gets totally confused?


% As I understand one benefit of the group e-mail address is that you can open to e-mail from outside the organisation. Whilst I understand that chat supporters hate e-mail, what is the logic of hiding the e-mail interface from the team (it should at least be an option). That way ordinary users of outlook who are in the group can e-mail and have it at least spotted by their more savvy teams colleagues and external users to send e-mails to groupname@organisation if you allow it with the off-chance that a team member might see it. Fair enough that those who use only outlook miss out on true chat and channels but where is the business benefit when my own staff or partners send an e-mail to the "team" e-mail address and none of my teams users can see it?


# I am baffled - the author of the infographic seems to think there's an automatic plan created in teams - I don;t see one - I can create my own plan on a tab and I can open an existing plan but apparently not the one from the outlook group (i.e. the one that is created automatically but inaccessible in outlook despite it's name - and only accessible from the mail web app)


! whilst this same calendar in outlook group and team is the only bit that makes any sense (and fits with the implications in the infographic and accompanying text) as far as I can see the team meetings doesn't have the useful feature of outlook (and Windows calendar) that let's you see other calendars at the same time e.g. your own, other teams etc. so would appear to be pretty useless for anyone who doesn';t work in just one team (I may have missed something here as I have not investigated this hard as the other bits seem to unhelpful)


So I go back to my original point (as in my 1st post)  the whole thing seems to be a complete and baffling mess.

The 2nd infographic is lovely but I can only conclude one of the following:


a) the writer has been instructed to say lots of things that are sort of true but to cover up as much as possible the reality of the chaos.

b) the writer is not using the same version of the software that I have.

c) the writer is working from some master plan document and has never seen that actual software or tried it.

d) I am using the wrong software.

e) I am an idiot.


Sorry to be mean but something is wrong...

Kevin, this is overly generalized.  You point to 3 different services that have very little overlap as far as communication and sharing go.


gmail is email, if i need to send a person an email I do that.  I use outlook (office 365 the same way).  Twitter, is a social platform to send basically public announcmets to anyone who wants to listen.  Facebook messenger is only used when I have to communicate with someone and who is a facebook contact.  These three services are 3 very different sets of people.  I would never use email/twitter/messenger to talk to the same person.


Each of these office tools are designed to comminicate and share with the same audience of people.  I have a message for the team.  Do i send A) and email to the team mailbox (outlook) B) a message to the team channel (Teams) C) post to the yammer feed (if I created the group there).  The fact is either can be used to get the job done.  And this is the problem.  Now the team members recieving it have toconstantly be chacking all these different tools becasue who knows what tool someone will decide to sdend a message in.  There is no distinct seperation in the audience and know really intuitive way to infer where a certain conversation should be had.  Yammer is less of an issue becasue if you creat a yammer group that is all you get you dont get the others.  The issue seems to be more with outlook groups, and the group inbox and Teams.


Even for the customers who use and are used to using slack this becomes hard.  Becasue with Slack the group inbox just doesn't exist.  But in office 365 you get both.  You can try to explain to them to think of the same workflow as they had with slack and ignoire the group in outlook.  But it is right there staring them in the face, the files and calendar ar the same, as is OnNote (sortof) so the seperation gets blurred and before you know it you have split conversations.


It all really is a partially implemented mess. right now the best method I have come up with is to tell people to send messages in each tool.   if you send an email to the group inbox then also post a message to the main team channel.  I am working on a way to automate this.





Believe it or not, I might use email, Twitter, and Messenger to communicate to the same people.

 - Email when the comms is more formal

 - Twitter when I want to have a public conversation

 - Messenger when I want a private, more emphemeral conversation


Same use cases for Outlook email, Yammer, and Teams.


>Each of these office tools are designed to comminicate and share with the same audience of people.

This is not really true.


Teams for sure is for smaller groups of people. The people I work closely with on projects or on daily work. Whereas I might email anyone in the company (or they might email me) with a question or as a follow-up to a meeting. And for sure Yammer is communication that happens with anyone in my company.


Could you use any of the three platforms only with a small team? Sure. It's messaging after all. But the context of some written words in Email vs. Yammer (e.g. Twitter) vs. Teams (e.g. Messenger) is often very different.


For smaller teams the main tension is between email and teams. They generally should choose one mode or the other.  Teams doesn't work when half the group still sends email.  And for that very same team, they'd use Yammer in the case where they want their work to be seen by others, for those outsiders to comment on things they're doing, etc.

Kevin, Please dont take this the wrong way but that is confussing as all get out.  So if you were on my team, I would have to play the guessing game as to the method you decided to use to send communication.  Having a conversation with you in this matter, jumping back and forth, would use up more of my time than needed and in the end increase my frustration with you.


I am tired of this argument that the tools arent designed to reach the same group of people.  It doesnt hold water, they are all based off the same group for crying out load.  You can make the arguement for yammer becasue thankfull making a yammer group means you wont get the group inbox or a tema channel.  


But if you make a Team you get a group inbox.  And it will be the same group of people.  When you talk about email all the people in the company thats all fine.  But that would be a differnt team/group that smaller team one you spoke of which currectly would also get a group inbox in outlook.  And that large everyone in the organization group email box, guess what they also have a team channel.  No matter how you look at the it the the Outlook group inbox and the Team channel are bassed on the same Office 365 Group the audience of both are the same.


Your last paragraph sums everything up.  If you should only use teams why is there no option to not enable the group inbox.  It is simply confusding to the end user.  It is crazy difficult to get them to not use it becasue it just seems like it is ment to be used and is the same thing.  The you run into the fact there is no way to communicate externally via the teams app.  So if as a group you need to send an email to someone outside the org you have to droip into outlook.


Its best just to keep yammer out of this as they may have well not tried to integrate yammer into Office 365 Groups.  Yammer Groups are still 100% seperated there is basically no integration there.  This actually makes it easier than what they did with Outlook/Teams.  So I will say when to use yammer and when to use the other tools is easy becasue there are not any duplicate groups.  The only part that is hard is trying to explain to a client ehy they dont want to make an All yammer group and and All Team.  It introduces the confusion.

Intra-team = It's either Teams or Email. Pick one. If you don't know which one your team is using, ask your manager.

  - the fact that Microsoft gives you both is certainly a point of confusion I'm willing to concede. My view is that if you're confused only pick one.


Extra-team = Yammer


>Its best just to keep yammer out of this as they may have well not tried to integrate yammer into Office 365 Groups.

Um, yes they have. Newly created Yammer groups get all the Office 365 Group services besides email/calendar.  Very soon now, all previously created Yammer Groups will get the same Office 365 Group services (e.g. SharePoint site, Planner, etc.).



And if somone forgets or spots the files tab on outlook and assumes its the same thing (quite reasonaby - as would anyone developping the software who had applied a moment's thought to it and the reality of users) and then loses important data fidning it not to to be on the files tab in their team (or worse sharing it with others)....


It's dumb ... change it. Same item name under the same group/team must be the same thing anything else is slap in the face for the average user.

And if someone forgets or spots the files tab on outlook and assumes (quite reasonably - as would anyone developing the software who had applied a monet's thought to it) and then loses important data finding it not to to be on the files tab in their team (or worse sharing it with others)....


It's dumb ... change it. Same item name under the same group/team must be the same thing anything else is slap in the face for the average user.

I'm not sure where this comment is coming from. I haven't said anything about the Files nomenclature.

Sorry to be clear:


If I pick teams, outlook is still there and there's a tab called files in both systems which deposits your files in completely different places!

There's a planner which is not the same (and can' actually be accessed from outlook anyway – you need to use Mail from the waffle)

Oddly the calendar is actually the same but called "meetings" in one interface and "calendar" in the other (seriously odd decision as it is the only common element and all the ones that are not the same do share a name!).


This thread began with comments about the misleading info graphics that try to suggest that it is all rational, useful and well integrated whereas many of us posting on here feel that it is not.


If we are going to have two interfaces on must be a superset of the other that's understandable outlook is group/teams lite and teams is the full fat vat version with cool chat channels and lots of fun tabs with other info on them.


For that to make sense I would suggest


  1. That Files (the basic SharePoint) needs to be the same place in outlook or teams. I can explain to a user that all the other place are in teams but those who are infrequent users of the system can get some functionality out of Files (and the teams users can see what they have placed there)
  2. The base planner needs to be shared -  teams users can have lots of addiiotnal planners if they need them. (And if itthe plan  is part of an outlook group then outlook users [not just web MAIL users] need to access it from their interface).
  3. Although chat officianados hate mail. I'd suggest that teams need to have a tab which show items posted to the outlook group (with the option to remove for those who hate e-mail, believe their users will only use teams)
    The latter is particularly useful for the following situations:
    1. Where I have external users with access to the group e-mail address.
    2. Where I have non-team members  (internal) who want to communicate with the team
    3. Where any of my users
  1. Forgets they are supposed to use teams and not outlook to message
  2. Find that a name that looks just like the team name appears in the to box of their outlook when they tart typing it
  • Is on a machine with only outlook
  1. Is on a machine that has outlook but isn’t connected to the internet right now and needs to get a message to the team  (when team interfaces won't work)

But I want my teams users to notice THAT SOMEONE HAS COMMUNiCATED with them (their group)  that has the same name as their team) WITHOUT LEAVING Their team


In my current situation we have office workers (not particularly IT savvy ones - admin assistants etc.) but who are on line all day and I'd like to use teams as part of our plans to move most of their data to the cloud in sharepoitn sites (at least as soon a modern UI decides what to do with collections - more of the same half finished approach). But we also have councillors (think luddites -it's taken 5 years to get them all onto e-mail) many of whom will never learn to use teams, often won't be connected and use a variety of ancient e-mail tools etc. If they hear of a group name, they will use it. They might even understand the files tab bit and the calendar.
But the first time a teams users misses an e-mail from a councillor and there's a problem (row) in a committee meting because of it - they will just stop using teams (and all the other goodies we'd like them to adopt) because it is too much trouble and return to outlook. (I would as well!)


Even changing the files tabs to GroupFiles and TeamFiles (and then perhaps GroupPlan and TeamPlan [and Team+Group Calendar]) to make it clear that these are different places (if you must make them different) would help the average users to see that, whilst the separation is not apparently very useful, at least it is not "broken" which is response I have had from every ordinary person who has tried this. (They usually start with "I saved some files in the group/team" [words used interchangeably] "but they've disappeared" or "my colleague can't see them". Because any rational person would assume with the same group/team name and the same location "Files" it would be the same place.

The first time teams asked me to convert my group to a team I assumed it hadn't worked because Files was empty in the Team UI!


It makes adoption an uphill struggle for every user.


And it is just not as simple a teams, outlook choose one.

>And it is just not as simple a teams, outlook choose one.


If the question is "too many choices which to choose" for internal team messages, yes... it is that simple.


>If I pick teams, outlook is still there and there's a tab called files in both systems

>which deposits your files in completely different places!


For sure the Files tab in Outlook Groups and the Files tab in a Channel in Teams are different destinations. I'm not sure I'd call then "completely different" since the files end up in the same SharePoint site and in the same Document Library.   The "Files" in Outlook allows you to add files to the root level of the library, whereas files added in Teams are added into folders based on the names of your Channels in your team.


Completely different? No.  Potentially confusing? Yes.


You have certainly enmerated some cases where confusion may arise. I hope Microsoft is listening.

The solution has always been crystal clear to me ever since all this stuff started:

A group is a group is a group
A group contains workloads (Outlook inbox/calendar, Files, Notebook, Planner, Team, Yammer, PowerBI).
The group has controls that let you turn on and turn off workloads

So a group could hypothetically have an Outlook inbox, Yammer, and Team chat if Group admins so desired. But an admin could turn off things they didnt need like Planner, or PowerBI, so all of these interfaces stop getting so jammed up with things not being used.

That is pretty much the only way to demystify things at this point IMO.

Kevin, sometime from a group you need to email an external user even if the primary isnt a team.  You so you kind of need both since no way to have external communications from Teams.  And you cant just pick one.  You get both no matter what.  This is were the confusion for the end user begins.


Yammer's so called integration is pointless.  They may have just keep things as they were.  Sure you get a shaproint site, and a onnote notbook.  But they are not visble from any of the other tools that utilize groups.  Sire Team happens to be super flexible and you can add a tab.  But I mean try to ad a team channel or outlook inbox or view your Yammer group files/sharepoint from outlook and it aint going to happen.  For all intesive perpuses if you creat a yammer group it is no different than it was before, beside the UI to take you to the sharpoint site etc.  


The point of Office 365 group was to unite the services, unless yammer works differnt for you the only think you really get is that these resource get made automatically, no trully meaningfull integration in the ecosystem. I could have made the yammer group, then made a team site, then made a planner, and actually had a little more functionality.  I actually prefer the old style group so I really hope they don't do away with it.

A group is a group is a group
A group contains workloads (Outlook inbox/calendar, Files, Notebook, Planner, Team, Yammer, PowerBI).
The group has controls that let you turn on and turn off workloads

-- what special version are you useing.  No they dont.  you cant turn on or off anything.  You either get it or don't get it depending how you create the group.  Create a group on yammer ans you will never get an outlook inbox or a team chat.


So a group could hypothetically have an Outlook inbox, Yammer, and Team chat if Group admins so desired. But an admin could turn off things they didnt need like Planner, or PowerBI, so all of these interfaces stop getting so jammed up with things not being used.

-- again, a group in no way can have an outlook inbox, yammer, and team chat.  It can have an outlook inbox and team chat.  But not yammer.  Or is can have yammer but no outlook inbox or team chat.  If you make the group in yammer, no part of the group is accessable via outlook.  If you make it in teams, only portions of it are in outlook.  or map in an intuitive way.  This is the main part of the confusion.

Based on my research, that's not true though. Specifically:

1. You can't have Outlook, Yammer, and Teams in the same Group. Outlook and Teams, yes. But not Yammer. If you go with Yammer, you're stuck with Yammer. You can "connect" a separate Yammer Group that happens to have the same Group membership (but is a different entity to O365) and, say, embed the feed in the SharePoint site of the first Group, but that's kind of backwards IMO.
2. You can't turn off or disable the other apps. You get a Plan and Site whether you like it or not. Same for an email inbox (for example) if you create a Plan in Planner directly. If you don't want them, agree to not use them. Once you create one workspace in one app, you get them all.

Do you know of sources that state otherwise? If so, I'll update the infographic.



You're doing a great job trying to clarify this mess. You're a good soldier. 


But you're fighting a losing battle. 


My company pays for all of these products. People use all of them. And about 30% of messages are never received. About 20% of files get lost. 


It's not your fault. It's not the fault of the people working on a specific product. It's not the users' faults. 


Microsoft management failed. They failed to manage their product development. They let immature products into the market. Products that duplicated other products. Products that partially integrated with other products. It's a mess. 


Ultimately, users and product-specific teams will pay the price. 


In the meantime, my team is standardizing on Dropbox for files, Outlook for email and calendar, and iMessage for chat. Those products work, as long as you don't connect them with Yammer, Teams, Groups, and the rest of that Microsoft morass. 


Microsoft Morass. Has a ring to it. 

Gmail, Twitter, and Facebook were developed by three different companies. Each user chooses to implement each. Or not. Yammer, Outlook, Groups, Teams, SharePoint, and OneDrive get shoved into the enterprise. Enterprise users assume they're supposed to use them all. Why else would their CIO have bought them?

You're asking users to figure out what you meant when you wrote the code. That's probably not the right approach. When I use Apple stuff, I know which tile to press. When I use this Microsoft Morass, I punt to Dropbox and iMessage. Only Outlook seems to do its job well without confusion.
No......I'm saying that is what Microsoft SHOULD have done, not how it is

You do that, and all of this mess clears up

Agree and this is our guidance to customers as well. Thanks Kevin!

That's overly generalized. I have colleagues that, once they're introduced to Outlook Groups and Teams Groups, they really do like and use them. If your team can agree on the tools (like your example with Dropbox, Outlook, iMessage) and not get all wide-eyed at some up-and-coming random app in an app store somewhere, they can be very productive. Don't look at the IT tools as things to complain about "not feature-rich enough", stay within the limitations, and don't get distracted by shiny objects, and your team will be fine. Although if you want a real KM or ECM repository, Dropbox isn't going to come close to SharePoint with metadata and search. Even for working files, I actually prefer OneDrive to Dropbox. Then again in my personal life, I'm a Google Drive guy. But I'm coming close to my (free) storage limit! Maybe it's time to migrate (he said ironically).
I think at this point the best way forward is create an Office 365 enabled Yammer group. You get a team site and planner with group conversations in Yammer. Use Skype for Business for chat. If this does not meet business requirements, then consider Teams.

Glad that you have users who like groups - I thought they seemed useful until I made the shocking discovery that although a team shares a name with a group and indeed, creating a team creates a group the tools create two mostly different ecosystems that appear to be the same to any reasonable user. So a user who finds the outlook group and puts a file in the FILES tab in that interface is not actually sharing files with a user who uses the SAME NAMED team and uses the FILES tab in that interface (surreal).

And any attempt to rationalise this in a users mind by saying yes "it's a bit weird Microsoft decided to have two completely separate things that happen to have have the same name" is undermined when the users discover that they are related because the CALENDAR is SHARED.  (Showing that separation from the other components was just arbitrary and not thought through). And so there is overlap except when there isnt.


Worse still, someone will discover (from their auto suggest) that they can send e-mails to the team using teamname@company and see these e-mails in their sent items, group ui etc (i.e udner the team name as far as they are concerned) will not understand that members of the team who use the teams tool will never see these.


Oh and when a plan is created in web mail ("outlook") it disappears when the user loads outlook 2016 and it also doesn't show up for team members.


So we are not complaining about lack of features or starry-eyed about new apps, we are pointing out that what has been released is inconsistent, incomprehensible (to any normal user) and doesn't work helpfully.


@Ian Cunningham wrote:

So a user who finds the outlook group and puts a file in the FILES tab in that interface is not actually sharing files with a user who uses the SAME NAMED team and uses the FILES tab in that interface (surreal).

This isn't my experience.


As noted elsewhere the "Files" tab in a specific Team's channel goes to the folder for that channel in the Group Site's doc library. But it is the same doc library that is seen via the Outlook Groups.


You can't see the same files from one Channel in a Team when you go to another Channel (in the Teams UI anyway). The files are Channel specific. Nobody would call this a different location or that the files aren't shared with the same people.

It sounds as your experience is not with the everyday users that I meet. I am quite happy to explain to an slightly experienced teams user that the tabs they see in different channels are somewhere else. 


Much harder to explain to someone who creates their first team that the FILES they will automatically see in their (thus far) ONLY channel is not the same FILES as they will see in the "automagically" created group that appears in Outlook.

I think any reasonable human being would.


What baffles me is


1) Why anybody would deign it this way even if the default tabs said group files in outlook and team files in teams that would have helped

2) Why anybody struggles with seeing that this is a very confusing first experience for people who don;t understand teams, libraries, SharePoint (the whole point of modern ui s etc. I thought). the more experienced teams users will begin to understand that the channels are different.

3) Why it wouldn't;t be useful to have a default team channel was the same as the group - allowing users who have not yet adopted teams to interact at least in part with their team using peers and allowing offline users to interact via e-mail. And allowing external users to be monitored (their e-mail) in the team.


@Kevin Crossmantry to imagine you are new user or an office manager who is computer happy but not a Sharepoint savvy office 365 expert MVP. You may have already used groups or not.


What's this new thing?

I'll create one.

Oh and can choose a name or use one of my existing groups (if they've used groups already)

Cool there's a place to put files, and a calendar and a chat space (if they've used social media they may recognise this)


Oh and look my new team is also in outlook (or if they used group already they'd know that). and it has an e-mail address so people not in the team or who don;t want to use chat can send e-mail to my team. brilliant! (note to self, I must find out how someone using teams sees these e-mails. Perhaps they just appear  in a conve:sation somewhere?)

Oh and look the things I put in the meetings in teams appear here as well in the teams's calendar in outlook. I wonder if it works vice versa? - it does that's cool (that means the dinosaurs in legal who will never swithc to anything new as a matte of principle will be able to see the team meetings).


Even better they could share files via the files option in outlook; they've always resisted SharePoint as being too technical but this is easy, it's right there in their e-mail.

But my files are missing. Things I put in files in the team view of my group don;t appear in the outlook view of my group. I must have done something wrong- the calendar is working properly.


Oh and where's my built-in planner that all the features live talk about - I can see it in webmail but not in outlook and it's not there in the team view either.


Assuming that they don't just give up and come back later when it is fixed...after some training they then might wonder how they will integrate their deskbound or smartphone glued pro-technology users with the more pedestrian outlook users.

So they look for some help and find a fabulous infographic that tells them that outlook groups and teams bascailly work togetehr - like superheroes except in reality they are like chalk and cheese with curious overlaps that make no sense.

The smarter ones might wonder if both product lines will actually survive.


I think I have said this enough. After 35 years in IT, mostly teaching (a couple of decades with Microsoft) I am still amazed and the stability of the technically minded to see the problem from the point of view of the user. Two tabs called files which are created in different places by one process that cretaes something called a team or group (but the same name) which don't show the same files is just dumb.


"Two tabs called files which are created in different places by one process that cretaes something called a team or group (but the same name) which don't show the same files is just dumb."


Mind blown :-)


I'm turning Teams off until MS figure this out.





(Cross posting this from what I posted in the Steam forum)

The level of confusion is continuing to skyrocket with the confusing utilization of groups for everything.

This exact same conversation is happening in each product forum.

Until Microsoft approaches Groups as a true collaboration tool (like Teams) and gives you the ability to selectively enable and disable services/workloads this is only going to get worse.

We're looking at "opportunity tracking" in Dynamics 365, and every opportunity can create a new Group

Every Stream creates a new Group

Every plan creates a new Group

Every yammer creates a new Group

Every time a bell rings, an angel gets its wings (and a group is created)

Groups is such an awesome platform, but without control and logic it will build a mega unsustainable platform with content literally everywhere you can imagine under the sun. For end users that is super bad. With everything I listed above I see thousands if not hundreds of thousands of Steam Channels when all is said and done (and we are a company of less than 2000 people). Where logically we will probably only really need less than 50 channels when all is said and done.

- end cross post

I love Groups for the limited cases we are using it for, but I really fear the mess it is about to / has already become
Can you expand on the Steam/Stream implications? I'm not sure if you're talking about the gaming platform or the video platform. Are they rolling one/either of these in as part of Groups? Can you send me a link if that's the case?
check it out over in the O365 video forum, about time to update your info graphic to include Stream (what O365 Video is becoming).

O365 Video channels will become Stream channels (which are built on O365 Groups)

Dynamics 365 is the other Groups component I just learned about yesterday

Perfect, thanks. I'll update once it goes GA.

What a mess.  What an absolute mess!


My current intent is to improve communication and collaboration within the business.

  • I want to pare down the number of places a user has to check for communication.
  • I want people to think about which communication channel is more appropriate (email, chat, website etc).
  • I want collaboration to be more streamlined.
  • I want each business unit to collectively gather in a virtual environment.
  • I want cross unit teams to have a informal communication area to share thoughts on similar areas of function (we have one core technology that is used, at different scales, for multiple products).

I felt Groups might be the way forward for business units, or sub-units, but it wasn't going to work for cross-unit gatherings.  Then I found Teams and thought that might do.  So I looked into them both further, and ended up down the rabbit hole.


I get what MS are trying to acheive, I really do.  Having read this thread, I can see why Team files go into a sub-folder of the Group files.  I can see why Teams can't email.  But how MS have implemented it all is horrendous!


If creating Groups in a structured and planned way, to marry with your organisational structure, with an eye to having dynamic sub-groups (Teams) working within, all collaborating away, with Team Channels being created and destroyed in an ad-hoc fashion, I can see it working (except the Team membership is the Group membership, it seems).  But you have to ignore what MS and all these blogs have to say on the matter, because they just muddy the water by treating Teams as something that can be seperate.


I think the lack of integration between Teams and SfB is ridiculous, considering they're both chat orientated.  I want to cut down on the number of places a person goes to to communicate, not the opposite!


I think that being able to create a Team outside of a pre-existing Group is a good idea, until you realise it creates a new Group and causes all the confusion already mentioned.  A standalone Team should be light weight and not have the baggage of a Group, and it should be part of SfB.


Office 365 is becoming more of a nightmare, with new products coming in, seemingly looking for a problem to be a solution to, with poor documentation, no clear idea what they're for, they're becoming less integrated, and with meaningless names.



If your colleagues are going to use Teams, tell them not to use Skype. When it comes to chat/audio/video conferencing, Teams provides almost the same functionality, but better (e.g., chat is saved and is searchable and categorized [channels] as opposed to ad hoc IMing in Skype).

Your files are saved in the same document library ("Shared Documents"). But Groups in Outlook shows you all the files flattened (no folders)--for whatever reason--and Teams shows you the files in a folder structure based on channel name. You can add a tab for the top-level doc library view in your General channel if you'd like (it's what I do). It's at the channel level that a new folder is created in that library for those files. Personally, I don't like this either, but you're making it sound like 1) Teams channels are Groups under Groups and have different document repositories, which isn't the case (they're just categorized way to communicate with the list of users); and 2) the files live in different places (i.e., different doc libraries or different sites), which isn't true (they're all in the same doc library of the same site, but they're foldered by channel).

Lastly, Groups aren't structured when they're created organically by users. They all exist at the same level. They're simply a collection of users deemed appropriate by whoever creates that Group. You can create Groups that match your org chart, but there's nothing in the system that puts "Payroll" under "Human Resources". What makes this more apparent is a Group comes with a site collection that's not even part of the hierarchy of any SharePoint intranet you might have created... because site collections are equal in level no matter what. The way you phrased your comment makes it seem like that hasn't become apparent to you yet, and you need to know that. If you get that concept already, then my bad for misinterpreting your comment.

I agree this is all confusing, and unnecessarily so. I'm the first to squawk when these annoyances present themselves. But I will say it's not stopping people from doing some great work with these tools.

Hi Matt,


Re. SfB or Teams: it shouldn't have to be one or the other. Office 365 had a chat solution, which should have been expanded or replaced, not partially sidelined because another MS department developed Teams.  Not all communication will, or should be, catagorised in channels.  SfB is perfect for those cross business or external, ad-hoc chats, allowing sharing of content (screen, PowerPoint etc.).  Teams also sounds good for groups of people to chat about a particular topic.  But Teams can't be used to replace SfB, because you can't have that ad-hoc chat (Most SfB members don't show up in Teams, nor can you add external users, for example).  So now people have two chat systems, which is ridiculous.  Another nuisance is that you also get your SfB Meetings appearing in Teams (does that even work with external attendees?).  Either Teams should replace SfB in its entirety, or don't duplicate at all and expand SfB instead.  Teams' notifications seems lacking as well (nothing from a web browser, for example).


EDIT:  Chat > Search, in Teams, won't find most SfB users, but start a chat then add them, and it will find them. External users doesn't work here, though. :-/


Re. 'Files': I am aware that the Group files and Team Channels' files are stored in the same SharePoint repo, you can clearly see that when you open the Group SharePoint site proper, and I do see what they're getting at with the Team Channels and how the doc's are stored.  But there's potential confusion and disconnect even there.  You can access Files from Teams, but not in Outlook for Groups.  When you find Files for a Group (in OWA, which is otherwise not used day-to-day), you see all the files, flattened (as you said) but with no reference from where these files have come from.  Also, if you want to view the full SharePoint site, it's 'Open in SharePoint' in Teams, but in Groups it's 'Browse library'.  The Files tabs don't look the same either.


Re. Group creation: I understand how they exist in the system, and how they aren't aligned with the organisation (i.e. flat), and I'm all for people collaborating ad-hoc.  I just feel that O365 Groups are potentially too powerful to be treated lightly.  It might encourage too much structure for a group of people that shouldn't have that (calendar, email, SharePoint site).  Files can be stored in a Group, mounting up and using precious storage capacity, outsite of the official structure, unknown content and potentially shared when it shouldn't be.  I'm all for the structure, and power, when it aligns with the official business structure, and governed correctly, as this makes sense.  But allowing people to create it ad-hoc, when all they need is a group chat function, is asking for trouble.


I just feel that O365 Groups is a great idea, but poorly executed.  The introduction of Teams, and all the confusion that it caused (as evidenced by the need for all of these blogs), has just compounded the issues.  There's obviously been little thought for the adding of Teams, as evidenced by the similar, but not the same File tabs, and that in both Groups and Teams you have 'Conversations', suggesting they are the same thing, when they are not; one is chat, the other email and they don't link.


I'd love to have a cross business engineering Team, with Channels for Processes, Pumps, Water Management etc, to allow similar functions to be discussed in an informal way across the business, but I don't want the ability for them to have their own email group, calendar, file store etc.  Sometimes less is more.


I really do appreciate that people can work better with O365 Groups than without, but how much better and more intuitive could it be?  In my mind, the route we'll take is to use Groups and Teams following the organisational structure, and the same for specific cross business people (e.g. Senior Engineeers from each unit), but not allow ad-hoc creation.  See where that takes us.  Still annoyed that you have to use both SfB and Teams.

I give it a few years before Teams full-out replaces Skype. Teams is an example of a product that is not full-featured yet, but will get many of these improvements quickly over time. (Hell, even SharePoint doesn't do everything I think it should and that's almost 20 years old.)

Teams has already shown to be very popular with my contacts because of the "I never have to leave Teams to do my work" aspect of it (even Outlook, a decades-old product, can't compete with that yet). Introduce people to Teams, show them how it's really good, and point out that--for the moment--external isn't all there, so in those instances use Skype. But be prepared for Skype to go away sometime in the next 3-to-5 years.

BTW, ad hoc chats do work in Teams. In fact, when I miss a Skype chat from someone, I get notifications from--wait for it--the user chat space in Teams! And Teams records my chats there so I can actually see them again, as opposed to the one-off-ness of Skype convos, which has always been awful.
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