Study Guide Series: Exam MS-700 – Manage apps for Microsoft Teams

This post is part of the overall MS-700 Exam Study Guide. Links to each topic as they are posted can be found here.

One of the great things about Teams is how extensible it is with both Microsoft and third party apps. There are thousands of apps available to add to Teams which provide a huge variety of functionality for end users. In this post we look at Microsoft Teams apps, how to control which apps users can use and how to deploy them centrally. The areas covered are:

  • Manage Org-wide app settings
  • Create and manage app permission policies
  • Create and manage app setup policies
  • Add apps, connectors, tabs, and messaging extensions to a team
  • Customize the app store
  • Publish and configure a custom app to Microsoft Teams

Manage Org-wide app settings

While most app settings can be managed via Teams policies, there are some settings which need to be set on a tenant level. To manage org-wide app settings, navigate to Teams apps -> Manage apps in the Teams Admin Center (TAC) and select the Org-wide app settings at the top of the page. There are currently four settings that can be defined at tenant level for Teams apps:

  • Show tailored apps – Pins relevant apps according to a users license type. This currently only impacts users on Frontline worker (F1/3) licensing. Enabling this setting will automatically pin the following apps for frontline workers:
    • Activity
    • Chat
    • Teams
    • Walkie Talkie
    • Tasks
    • Shifts
    • Approvals
  • Third-party apps – Disabling this setting prevents users from adding any third party apps to Microsoft Teams. Microsoft apps will still be available. Enabling this setting does not override the Teams app permission policy assigned to the user
  • New third-party apps published to the store – Disabling this setting prevents new third-party apps from being added to the app store. Enabling this setting does not override the Teams app permission policy assigned to the user
  • Interaction with custom apps – Disabling this setting prevents users from uploading or using any custom apps in Teams

Create and manage app permission policies

App permission policies define what apps users can interact with in Teams. When used in conjunction with the org-wide settings detailed above, the most restrictive setting will apply. App permission policies are available to configure in the TAC under Teams apps -> Permission policies. From here, like any other Teams policy we’ve looked at in this series, you can create and deploy multiple policies to meet the requirements of different users. App permission policies allow admins to specify what to allow/block from three types of apps: Microsoft apps, Third-party apps and custom apps (Figure 1).

Figure 1: Configuring an app permission policy

For each app type you can:

  • Allow all apps – No restrictions, users can install any app in the category
  • Allow specific apps and block others – Allow only whitelisted apps, selecting this allows admins to specify which apps are allowed
  • Block specific apps and allow all others – The reverse of the previous setting, blocks specific apps but allows all others
  • Block all apps – Prevents the installation or use of any app in the category

Once the policy is defined, deployment is done via assignment to users or group assignment as we’ve seen previously.


Create and manage app setup policies

App setup policies, similar to app permission policies are defined and deployed to users through the usual methods we’ve looked at. Setup policies define what apps are deployed to users automatically and how they are presented in the Teams client. Deploying an app through a setup policy does not override the permission policy assigned to the users so if apps are limited, the permissions policy must be modified before deploying an app with a setup policy.

App setup policies can be configured from the TAC under Teams apps -> Setup policies. and like other policies, you can have a single global policy deployed to all users or multiple policies for each type of user in the environment.

From an app setup policy, you can configure any apps that should be installed by default (you don’t need to specify the standard apps such as chat and calendar), this is done by adding apps in the Installed apps section. You can also change the order of the pinned apps for users by moving apps up and down in the Pinned apps section as shown in Figure 2.

Figure 2: Configuring app setup policies

In addition to configuring installed and pinned apps, app setup policies also provide the option to prevent or allow users from uploading custom apps to Teams and to prevent or allow users from pinning apps in their client.


Add apps, connectors, tabs, and messaging extensions to a team

Adding additional functionality to teams with apps, connectors, tabs and messaging extensions (once they are allowed by a permission policy) is easy. From a Teams client, open the Apps section at the bottom of the navigation bar to view the app store and search for and select your desired app. Once you’ve found your app, depending on the functionality of the app, there will be a list of options for where to add it (As shown in Figure 3 and Figure 4). The functionality will be listed in the App features section, detailing what the app will do in each context.

Figure 3: The forms app can be added as a tab to a Team, chat or meeting
Figure 4: The YouTube app can be added as a tab to a Team or chat

Once you’ve chosen an app, you can then specify where to add it (Figure 5)

Figure 5: Choose where the app should be added

Different apps provide different functionality and not all of them are applicable to all locations. If an app has not been allowed via a permission policy, end users will not be able to add the app. The Add button will be replaced by the Request approval option (Figure 6).

Figure 6: Request approval for a blocked app

When an app is requested, the request is reflected in the Requests by users column of the Manage Apps page in the TAC (Figure 7).

Figure 7: The Requests by users column shows the number of requests

Admins can use this information to see demand for a particular app and allow it in the permission policy if required.


Customize the app store

The Teams app store can be customized to show organizational branding. From the TAC, the app store can be customized by opening Teams apps -> Customize store. From here you can configure:

  • An Organization logo for the custom apps page of the app store
  • An Organization logomark for the app store
  • A background image or color for the custom apps page of the app store
  • Custom text color for the organization name in the custom apps page of the app store
Figure 8: Customize the app store

Publish and configure a custom app to Microsoft Teams

Custom apps for Teams allow organizations to develop their own functionality to enhance Teams in ways specific to their organization. Developing custom apps is a huge topic and is not required for this exam however, once your developer or partner has created a custom app, it then needs to be uploaded and deployed to users.

When we are provided with ann app to upload, this can be done from the TAC via the Manage apps -> Upload option. From here, upload a manifest file for the app. Once uploaded the app should show up in the Manage Apps section ready for deployment. I’ve detailed uploading custom apps previously when I wrote about deploying the Icebreaker bot for Teams so I recommend checking out that post to see the full process.


Summary

In this post we looked at the different aspects of managing and deploying apps in Microsoft Teams. The flexibility of Microsoft Teams when it comes to apps is one of the most valuable features for organizations. If there is some functionality your organization needs in Teams there is probably an app for that and if you can’t find one, you could always choose to built and deploy it in house.

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