In Skype for Business, the program saves previous conversations to your Outlook mailbox for later review. Though they don’t always appear in the Skype client, they’re visible in outlook in the Conversation History folder in Outlook:
If your organization has switched to Microsoft teams, you might have noticed that past Teams conversations don’t appear in this folder, but the Teams client maintains previous history anyway.
So, where are they? Teams stores conversations inside user mailboxes just like Skype does, but they’re not visible to Outlook normally.
To view them, start from a machine that already has an Outlook profile configured for your mailbox. Then, set Outlook to online mode by turning off Use Cached Exchange Mode. Then, use MFCMAPI to connect to your mailbox.
Before going further, connecting to a mailbox with this tool is like viewing Active Directory data with ADSIEDIT. It’s a low-level tool to view a mailbox, exposing data that Microsoft intentionally. There’s no undo button, so proceed at your own risk. Or just follow along here.
When the application opens, connect to your mailbox with the Session > Logon option. This will bring up the Outlook Choose Profile dialog. Select the appropriate profile and click OK
A list of mailboxes that in the profile comes up. This includes shared mailboxes that you have access to:
Notice the flag STATUS_NO_DEFAULT_STORE. This is a flag indicating that the mailbox can never be a profile’s default message store and one of the technical reasons that accessing a shared mailbox requires connecting to a user mailbox first. The other flags on the primary mailbox indicate that there can only be one instance of this mailbox in an Outlook profile (SERVICE_SINGLE_COPY), the mailbox designated as the default for the profile (STATUS_PRIMARY_STORE), and a system reserved flag (SERVICE_CREATE_WITH_STORE).
Next, double click on the mailbox to open it. A window comes up with a single line: Root Container. Click the arrow to expand it. This view shows the root of the mailbox. These aren’t directly visible in Outlook, but they’re used as part of Outlook or other Office365 services. Scroll down to the item called Top of Information Store and expand it. This is the top of your mailbox as you see it from Outlook:
You may note that there are folders here that aren’t visible even in Outlook, such as ExternalContacts, PersonMetadata, or Yammer Root. Those folders aren’t visible in Outlook because they have the PR_ATTR_HIDDEN property set to True. Hidden folders aren’t displayed Outlook, webmail, mobile clients, etc. though important information often exists in them.
Expand the Conversation History folder and note that it contains a Team Chat subfolder that isn’t visible in Outlook. Check the PR_ATTR_HIDDEN attribute to see why:
To view the items in a folder, right click on it and select Open Contents Table:
This bring ups a window showing the contents of the folder. In the screenshot below, I’ve rearranged the columns to list the relevant data first. The subject isn’t relevant, but IM does make logical sense. The most important attribute is the Message Class, which indicates that it’s a saved conversation. A normal email has a class of IPM.Note. If you’re a heavy Outlook user, you might be wondering what the seldom-used Note feature lists as. The answer: IPM.StickyNote. Finally, Skype conversations don’t use this class. They use IPM.Microsoft.Conversation.
Looking at the timestamps in the items in this folder, two things stand out. First, the times are in UTC. These messages were sent at about 5:00 PM on 1/11/2019. More interestingly, notice the short duration between messages. Teams is creating a new item for each new message sent, which differs from how Skype operated. Skype for Business created a single item that represented an entire conversation while Teams creates individual items for each message sent/received.
To view one of these messages, one way is to double click to open a new window with the message and its properties. In the Actions menu, select Test Edit Body. This will bring up a dialog with the content of the message. This is also accessible via the PR_BODY property or by right clicking the message and selecting Export Message. In the screenshot below, note that there is a single response that was part of a larger conversation.
The text Is encoded as UTF-16LE and is already decoded for viewing.
In summary, though the conversation history isn’t visible to Outlook natively, Teams still stores previous conversations in a user’s mailbox and stores them as individual items.
Need help transitioning from Skye to Teams? We can help. To schedule your O365 consultation, contact us today.