Microsoft Teams Private Channels introduction

Today at Microsoft Ignite 2019 one of the most requested features was announced as GA. Private Channels is a highly requested feature and enables users to create channels that only a subset of users can see.

Why did Microsoft introduce private channels?

The requested scenario is that a subset of users in a Microsoft Team needs to discuss and collaborate without everyone having access and seeing the discussions. Keep in mind that members of a private channel need to be members of the Team.

The scenario where I see this being very useful is in projects where the steering group wants to have their own closed channel and file location to discuss the progress of the project, share meeting notes and make decisions for the project. Another scenario could be the sales department wanting to store signed contracts that only a subset of users have access to.

This is a new feature and I urge you to use private channels with moderation in the beginning and try to design teams around the notion that users should have access to all the content in a team. Use private channels as the exception, not the rule.

How to create private channels

To create a private channel, you need to be a member with the ability to create private channels. When you create the channel, you get the option to make it private, you are asked to add members from the team you are creating the channel in. Here you see how you can make a private channel.

PrivateChannels1

When the channel is created you will see who the members are, and the channel is marked with a padlock icon.  Here you see how you can differentiate between regular channels and private channels you are a member of

PrivateChannels3.PNG

The creation of channels can be controlled on a Team setting level. Some facts about channel management:

  • Owners see private channels that they are not a part of under Manage Team and channel list.
  • Owners can control if members are able to create private channels in the Team under settings for the team
  • Owners of the team can delete or see the owner list, to reach out if cleanup is needed.

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  • Owners of a private channel get to add member and control @mentions and Member permissions, under manage channel and settings.

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What are the features available today?

  • Chat and files are available from the GA date and are rolling out in November 2019
  • All members of the private channel need to be part of the original team
  • There are some limitations on apps available today, such as Planner and Stream connected to the channels, these are on the roadmapPrivateChannels4.PNG
  • When you create a private channel, it creates a new SharePoint TeamSite for that channel. This is to make sure control of who can access the files.
  • Administrators can find private channels in the Teams admin center

PrivateChannels5

  • Administrators can also find the SharePoint sites using the SharePoint PowerShell module using the template property
    • Get-SPOSite -Template TEAMCHANNEL#0
    • you can see that the site name includes the original team name, which means you can find out how many private channels are set up per team
    • The ability to see all private channel team sites in SharePoint admin portal will come later

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