External users in SharePoint Online/Office 365

There’s a useful feature in SharePoint Online that I think is not well known:

-Add an external user, without having to have a license for him.

We have three main possibilities:

  • Microsoft Office 365 user (different tenant)
  • Microsoft Account
  • Anonymous users (access to individual documents via guest link – not recommended for security issues, because the link could be potentially forwarded to anyone else).

As Microsoft says:

“An external user is someone outside of your organization who can access your SharePoint Online sites and documents but does not have a license for your SharePoint Online or Microsoft Office 365 subscription. External users are not employees, contractors, or onsite agents for you or your affiliates. “

It is possible to do but it would be illegal if the company’s employees are accessing the Tenant with external users instead of paying for a SharePoint license. I do not know how Microsoft sees the issue of licensing about shareholder access. To me, related companies could not use unlicensed/external access to the Tenant with a Microsoft Account instead of an Office 365 account from another Tenant.

Access is granted to the desired level, it can be removed at any time by the user administration page of Office 365. Password management obviously can not be made by Office 365 in this situation.

It’s worth understanding the scenario that is used if any company policy applies because of the use of personal Microsoft accounts.

Some points that were raised regarding using non-anonymous external users in SharePoint Online/Office 365 that may be useful:

Key constraint features:

• Not being able to have your OneDrive for Business

• Not having Office license

• Not being able to be Collection Site administrator

• He gets up to the same level of permission from the user who had invited him

Main points in common with licensed internal users:

• You can edit documents in Office Web Apps (Browser)

• You can download documents

When you add an external user to any SharePoint group or item, he receives an e-mail notification and needs to accept the invitation. If he doesn’t do that, the invitation may expire. When you share individual files or folders, the permission inheritance on these objects will be broken. That is, the permission set for these objects won’t include any changes made on the parent object.

It’s possible to accept external users from specific domains or to block some domains.

Importantly, there are no limits beyond the exposed (10,000 users in the E plans). However, these users are free and allowed if they are people outside the organization that hired the SharePoint Online/Office 365 Tenant.

More details about configuring external sharing:

Manage external sharing for your SharePoint Online environment

External sharing with Office 365 – Part 2: How to share SharePoint content with external users?

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