Office 365 Groups – Introduction & Frequently Asked Questions


[27/08/2015] Please check https://aka.ms/office365groups for the latest official messaging and roadmap

To support a project, you can easily create a new Group and invite colleagues. You can also search for and join existing Groups, which are open by default, to see all discussions, milestones and files and get up to speed quickly.  Of course, you can create private Groups as well for sensitive projects and content.

Office 365 Groups are only available to specific plans

if your tenant has access to Groups, you should find a “Groups” entry in the left-hand resource tree displayed by OWA.

  • E1-E4
  • A1-A4
  • G1-G4
  • Business Essentials and Business Premium plans, Business, Small Business Premium and Midsize Business plans
  • Kiosk plan

Frequently asked questions

Q. Which Office 365 plans include Groups?
A. Groups is a feature that is available in Outlook Web App email and calendar and OneDrive for Business, and will be rolled out to all customers that have an Exchange Online or Office 365 commercial subscription, both new and existing. Eligible Office 365 plans include the Office 365 Enterprise E1–E4 subscription plans (including the corresponding A2–A4 and G1–G4 plans for Academic and Government customers, respectively), Office 365 Business Essentials and Business Premium plans, Office 365 Small Business, Small Business Premium and Midsize Business plans and Office 365 Kiosk plan.

Q. Is there a limit on the number of groups?
A. Groups with more than a 1000 members are supported, but group users may notice that accessing group conversations and the group calendar can take a long time.
Source: https://support.office.com

Q. Where are the documents stored?
A. https://support.office.com/en-us/article/SharePoint-Online-and-OneDrive-for-Business-software-boundaries-and-limits-8f34ff47-b749-408b-abc0-b605e1f6d498?ui=en-US&rs=en-US&ad=US

A special form of Exchange mailbox provides the physical embodiment of a group. The mailbox is used to store group content up to a maximum of 50GB, including posts, messages, and calendar entries. The mailbox is linked with a document library that is apparently created within OneDrive for Business but really is a document library in a SharePoint site with some special UI to make it seem like it’s OneDrive.

Max storage is 1TB. The storage for Groups is not based on OneDrive for Business, but rather it is an associated SharePoint Online document library, which has the following characteristics:

    1. Up to 1TB storage capacity
    2. Ability to upload files up to 2GB in size
    3. Uses the new usage-based storage model (space allocated as needed)
    4. Groups storage WILL count to the used space in the tenant. Please check also the Recycle Bin of groups

The document library is intended to provide storage for any other type of content shared within the group.
The properties of the group mailbox indicate to Exchange that its membership can be used for routing purposes.
Mail sent to the group will be delivered to all members. As such, you can think of a Group as being like an Exchange distribution group with storage (the mailbox).

Q. Are groups public or private?
A. Groups are either public or private.You select the group type when the group is first create and cannot (for now at least) change a group from public to private or vice versa afterwards. As the type implies, anyone can join a public group, so this is the best type of group for topics such as company-wide information, best restaurants in an area, and so on.

  • Users don’t have to join a group or be added by an administrator before they can contribute or view group contents as they can always email the group to start a new conversation or contribute to an existing debate.
  • Access to the content held in a private group is restricted to its membership.
  • The user who creates a group is automatically added as a group administrator.
  • Users who wish to join a private group can send a request to the administrators to join and the request must be approved before they can access the group.
  • Even though you might assume that someone who is not a member of a private group cannot post to it, that’s not actually the case.
  • Anyone who belongs to a tenant can send email to a private group and that email will show up as a post in the conversations view.
  • A group can be changed from private to public, http://fasttrack.microsoft.com/roadmap#R-45211 

This is not a bug!
There are two scenarios when it is desirable for non-members to be able to post to a private group.

First, it might be a good thing for non-members to make a contribution to a group that’s used for problem reporting. In this scenario, the actual members of the group are responsible for processing problems but anyone should be able to contribute.

Second, it might be a good thing for a group member to invite external parties to contribute to a conversation, perhaps to provide feedback to a project plan or a similar discussion. They can do this by asking the non-member to send email to the group.

Q. Is there any way to enable external users that do not have an O365 account to join an O365 group?
A. It’s on our roadmap as well as many other items: http://fasttrack.microsoft.com/roadmap#I-35213

Q. Is there a way to archive a group?
A. 
To preserve the content on an Office 365 group SharePoint site or OneDrive for Business site, create a preservation policy in the Security and Compliance Center. To place an Office 365 group mailbox on hold, create an In-Place Hold in the Exchange admin center. Source: https://support.office.com/en-us/article/Learn-about-Office-365-groups-b565caa1-5c40-40ef-9915-60fdb2d97fa2?ui=en-US&rs=en-US&ad=US&fromAR=1

Q. Is it possible (and if so, how) to share a document  in a group to external users?
A. 
It’s on our roadmap as well as many other items: http://fasttrack.microsoft.com/roadmap#I-35213

Q. In my tenant some user are seeing ‘Discover’ option under Groups & some are seeing ‘Browse’. I have checked o different browsers but the same thing is happening. Do you know why that is happening? Is there any way that I can hide an Office 365 group for certain set of users. As whomsoever clicks on browse or discover sees all the groups in OWA. I want to hide the private group for my students in the OWA.
A. 
We’re rolling out the discover feature – which replaces “browse”. In either case, users can see all groups (private or public), though they cannot see content in groups they aren’t members of. If you want to hide a group from the GAL, you can use powershell, but this won’t hide the group in other workloads (e.g. SharePoint). We’re working on “secret” groups to resolve this issue in the future, but I don’t have a date to share. More information: http://answers.microsoft.com/en-us/msoffice/forum/msoffice_o365admin-mso_manage/hide-office-365-groups/3b71a957-75ff-4e83-b1d8-0cada193df20?auth=1

Q. Is there a method to allow non-members to view the calendar of a public Office 365 group via Outlook 2016? I can see that this definitely works via OWA, but am unable to find a way to do it in Outlook?
A.If a group is public, a user can navigate to the group’s calendar in OWA.

Q. Is there any way to export the calendar in a group? I want to delete a group but keep the calendar
A.
Not directly. You can search your own calendar for the items that were sent to a given group and act on them.

Q. Is there an iOS app currently that performs the ability to sync Office 365 groups files?
A.
You can use your in your iOS device the sites button in the OneDrive app to browse into a group and take the file offline using the parachute app.

More information

Hope it helps

-Tom

PS: feel free to ask me on https://twitter.com/tomvangaever

Comments (21)

  1. Hal Anderson says:

    Is there any way to enable external users that do not have an O365 account to join an O365 group?

    1. It’s on our roadmap as well as many other items: http://fasttrack.microsoft.com/roadmap#I-35213

  2. Imran Masud says:

    @Hal This is not allowed at this time but we are actively working on enabling the scenario.  Adding non 0365 users or users from another domain to a unified group.

  3. K@te says:

    Is it possible to give permission to the user to send emails from Private Group email address?

  4. K@te says:

    Find the answer on my question: using PowerShell

  5. Derek says:

    Why can a group not be changed from private to public?

  6. Hong Tran says:

    Is there a way to archive a group?

    1. Deniz Uysal says:

      Hi Hong, Did you find a solution for archiving a group? I am interested in this as well. I was hoping to build a workflow to copy the files from the Group to an Archive SharePoint site we have however I am unable to access the Group when I’m building the workflow.

    2. To preserve the content on an Office 365 group SharePoint site or OneDrive for Business site, create a preservation policy in the Security and Compliance Center. To place an Office 365 group mailbox on hold, create an In-Place Hold in the Exchange admin center. Source: https://support.office.com/en-us/article/Learn-about-Office-365-groups-b565caa1-5c40-40ef-9915-60fdb2d97fa2?ui=en-US&rs=en-US&ad=US&fromAR=1

  7. Arthur Kater says:

    Is it possible (and if so, how) to share a document  in a group to external users?

    1. It’s on our roadmap as well as many other items: http://fasttrack.microsoft.com/roadmap#I-35213

      1. Ben Cuttriss says:

        Tom. Any idea when this might come through? I’ve seen this sit there for a year now – any kind of rough, general idea when we might see it? Thanks. Ben

  8. Vaibhav Sharma says:

    In my tenant some user are seeing ‘Discover’ option under Groups & some are seeing ‘Browse’. I have checked o different browsers but the same thing is happening. Do you know why that is happening? Is there any way that I can hide an Office 365 group for certain set of users. As whomsoever clicks on browse or discover sees all the groups in OWA. I want to hide the private group for my students in the OWA. Please help if you have any suggestions.

    1. We’re rolling out the discover feature – which replaces “browse”. In either case, users can see all groups (private or public), though they cannot see content in groups they aren’t members of. If you want to hide a group from the GAL, you can use powershell, but this won’t hide the group in other workloads (e.g. SharePoint). We’re working on “secret” groups to resolve this issue in the future, but I don’t have a date to share.

      More information: http://answers.microsoft.com/en-us/msoffice/forum/msoffice_o365admin-mso_manage/hide-office-365-groups/3b71a957-75ff-4e83-b1d8-0cada193df20?auth=1

  9. Simon says:

    Is there a method to allow non-members to view the calendar of a public Office 365 group via Outlook 2016? I can see that this definitely works via OWA, but am unable to find a way to do it in Outlook.

    1. If a group is public, a user can navigate to the group’s calendar in OWA.

  10. Roy Sørensen says:

    Is there any way to export the calendar in a group?
    I want to delete a group but keep the calendar

    1. Not directly. You can search your own calendar for the items that were sent to a given group and act on them.

  11. Desmond says:

    Is there an iOS app currently that performs the ability to sync Office 365 groups files?

    1. You can use your in your iOS device the sites button in the OneDrive app to browse into a group and take the file offline using the parachute app.

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