Microsoft made a bunch of records management announcements on May 19. Records management is deemed by many to be as interesting as dry soap, so reading this news mightn’t have been high on your priorities. However, buried in the text were two interesting points.

Teams Retention for All

First, all paid Office 365 licenses now cover Teams retention policies. Previously, accounts subject to these policies needed Office 365 E3 or better. Now, a frontline worker F1, entry-level E1 (or G1), or Business basic license suffices.

Teams retention policies apply to chats, messages in private (in preview) and standard channels, and will apply to shared channels when Microsoft ships this functionality later this year. In all cases, the Microsoft 365 substrate captures compliance records for messages and the Exchange Online Managed Folder Assistant (MFA) processes retention policies against the compliance records stored in personal and group mailboxes. Deletions are synchronized back to the Teams message store in Azure Cosmos DB and actioned there.

Another thing I noted is that Microsoft says Teams retention policies for lower-grade licenses have a minimum 30-day retention period. Retention policies for E3 and above can use a 1-day minimum retention. This is probably an example of where Microsoft will use the Teams Pro service plan to deliver differentiated functionality to users. Accounts with E3 or above have Teams Pro, so they can use shorter retention periods.

Adaptive Scopes

Second, Microsoft announced the preview of adaptive policy scopes. Today, retention policies apply to all locations which come within the scope of the policy. You can exclude some locations (like mailboxes) from a policy, but you’re limited in terms of the number of exclusions which can exist. Adaptive scoping is like dynamic groups. You create a query to identify the set of accounts which come within the scope of the policy and workloads then apply the policy based on the scope. For example, a scope could target people in a certain country to ensure that retention complies with specific legislation pertaining to that country. Or a retention policy could use a scope to target executives so that their information is retained for longer or shorter periods than the norm.

Attribute-based scoping offers a great deal of flexibility if the attributes used to identify users are accurate and kept updated. This is the perpetual issue for any directory-based processing. However, if you ‘re used to dynamic Microsoft 365 Groups or dynamic distribution lists, your directory is probably accurate and adaptive scopes will come naturally.

Multi-Stage Disposition Reviews

Microsoft is obviously very excited to introduce multi-stage disposition reviews. A disposition review occurs when the retention period of a label applied to a message or document expires and the retention action configured for the label calls for a manual check before the item is finally disposed (deleted, kept for a further period, or have a new label applied). Typically, this happens for documents like project plans, contracts, and the like which might need legal or other review before an organization is allowed to delete the items.

Up to now, a single-stage disposition process applied. In other words, Microsoft 365 keeps items for review by a single set of reviewers and disposes of the items once the reviewers decide what to do. Now, the disposition process can progress through up to five stages involving different reviewers.

Does this matter a lot to the average tenant? Yes, if you use Microsoft 365 record management (and have the necessary licenses) and have a need for manual review before deciding if items should be kept. That covers a small part of the overall installed base, who will be very happy with the prospect of being able to operate a more sophisticated review process. The rest won’t care, which is often the case for Microsoft announcements.

About the Author

Tony Redmond

Tony Redmond has written thousands of articles about Microsoft technology since 1996. He is the lead author for the Office 365 for IT Pros eBook, the only book covering Office 365 that is updated monthly to keep pace with change in the cloud. Apart from contributing to, Tony also writes at to support the development of the eBook. He has been a Microsoft MVP since 2004.

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