Usage guidelines for Microsoft customers and partners

  • Get connected    Use the cool sharing features of Office 365 to connect and collaborate with customers, partners, suppliers, and other colleagues.

  • Be polite    Remember that your conversations include your coworkers, customers, and partners.

  • Be aware    Conversations and content you would not normally share with everyone should take place within private groups.

  • Be smart    Confidential information should only be shared as allowed by your company policies.

NOTICE    Please be aware that access, use and content within the Microsoft Office 365 environment may be monitored and reviewed by Microsoft to manage performance, security and compliance. Please read the frequently asked questions below for more information.


Q: What is an externally shared site or group?

A: When configured for external sharing, a site or group can be shared with users outside of an organization. This means the site or group, including all documents and conversations, can be easily shared with anyone with Microsoft corporate credentials (, as well as external guests who have a work account or consumer account (e.g.,,,, Note that Yammer external groups cannot currently be shared with common consumer email domains, including,,, and

Q: What information is appropriate to share in groups and networks that include external guests?

A: Microsoft personnel must follow the same general guidelines (this link to Microsoft internal policies will not work for guests) as they use for internal Microsoft communications. Non-Microsoft participants should review their own organization’s policies and guidelines about sharing information with third parties. Everyone should be aware of the members in groups or networks where they share information.

Q: Is the Office 365 environment secure?

A: Yes. Microsoft provides enterprise-grade reliability and standards. We safeguard your data by hosting it in geographically distributed datacenters with continuous data backup, the latest encryption technology, premier disaster recovery capabilities, and a team of experts monitoring the servers around the clock. However, keep in mind that our data is only as safe as you keep it. Improper security and group management can leave data vulnerable.

Q: What should I do if I see something inappropriate on the site, or confidential information shared too broadly?

A: If you see information that you are concerned may be inappropriate or too broadly shared, you can remind members of these usage guidelines or send a private message asking them to remove the information. If this does not resolve the issue, or you believe that there is an urgent need to remove content right away, please contact the site owner, group owner, or members.


Q: Who can access and use an external group?

A: External groups can be either public or private to their home network. See the banner at the top of the group to determine its scope. All information in a private external group is only available to members of that group. Information in a public external group is available to members of the group and anyone else in the host network. Nothing is available to the general public at large. Only admins of an external group can approve membership requests.

Q: What is a Yammer external network?

A: Yammer external networks are just like the Yammer network you normally use within your company, but an external network can include members from any company. Microsoft sponsors a number of these networks to use in creating communities with customers and partners. Each network you join will have its own feed, groups, and “follow” relationships.

Q: Is an external network the same as a private group?

A: Each network can contain many groups, some of which can be private. All information in an external network is only available to members of that network. Nothing is available to the general public at large. However, many groups in an external network can (and should!) be “public,” meaning the content is available to anyone that is a member of the network. This provides Microsoft customers in some networks with an opportunity to communicate with each other, but customers can also have private conversations with Microsoft without switching to another network to do so.

Q: Who can access and use an external network?

A: The owner of an external network can determine if it’s an “open” network, meaning anyone from Microsoft and/or anyone from a given set of email domains can join without approval, or a “closed” network, meaning all members are individually approved by an administrator. The network administrator should make it clear who will be allowed into the network.

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