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Work together in Groups in Office 365

Getting things done at work means sharing information and collaborating across ad hoc groups and project teams.  But, often times the tools we use to bring people together are different in each app—distribution groups in Outlook, Favorites lists in Skype for Business, groups in Yammer.  That’s why Microsoft has introduced Groups in Office 365, so you can easily connect with the colleagues, information and applications you need to do more.

OWA Groups conversation feed

To support a project, one can easily create a new Group and invite colleagues. One 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, one can create private Groups as well for sensitive projects and content.

Groups will show up within the web experiences of Office 365 email and calendar and OneDrive for Business.  Yammer and Lync also will be added to the Groups experience to help users do even more.

Eligible Office 365 plans include the Office 365 Enterprise E1, E3 and E4 subscription, Office 365 Business Essentials and Business Premium plans and Office 365 Kiosk plan.

In some ways, Office 365 Groups behave like traditional email distribution groups in that you can send a message to a group and have it delivered to all the group members. But the problem with distribution groups is that if you’re not a member, you don’t get the information. And when you join, you don’t gain access to previous discussions.

An Office 365 group is a more persistent entity than an email distribution group because while you can use a group like a regular distribution group, it also stores discussions for new members to discover when they join. It’s kind of like an Office 365 Group is a cross between a distribution group and a public folder. And like a distribution group, an Office 365 Group is instantiated as a group object in the directory - in this case, within Azure Active Directory. 

Perhaps a more accurate comparison is to a combination of a distribution group and a site mailbox (or even a traditional shared mailbox). Groups are preferred to site mailboxes if you need a collaboration platform for a new project.