With the new M365 comes several new and updated features with implications for eDiscovery and governance. Below are overviews of several of the new features discussed in Reed Smith’s Tech Law Talks podcast, and how organizations should utilize and capitalize on the new platform while complying with legal requirements.

Exchange Online

Exchange Online has been upgraded from Exchange to provide important enhanced functionality, including more stored data in mailboxes and greater governance, such as retention and disposal mechanisms over such data. New features include the ability to search across the entire M365 tenant (such as deleted or previous employee emails), My Analytics (which tracks and stores user analytics), and Sway (an interactive presentation software). Retention and auto-deletion can be applied to most of the artifacts in the mailbox. It is recommended that organizations test whether the Microsoft documentation is subject to its policies. For example, the eDiscovery center inside M365 may state that Sway is subject to the eDiscovery tools, but the documentation center may state that Sway is not. Organizations should understand EXCO and its new data types to address compliance issues that may arise.

SharePoint Online

SharePoint offers drastically increased functionality from the previous SharePoint. SharePoint Online acts as a shared drive within an organization, while allowing organizations to implement various access controls for improved governance. It allows for more active collaboration within an organization than a static document, such as through multiple users and editors working on the same document at the same time and storing metadata relating to the shared documents and folders. A single attachment may be shared to multiple people, with live changes being made. Users can also allow for automatic notifications when changes are made to a document, have shared comments, and view version history. In terms of storage, SharePoint Online underlies each individual Microsoft Teams channel, meaning documents in each Teams channel is stored within SharePoint Online. Organizations may regulate access control to determine who can work on a document. Organization should also review their automatic rules relating to retention and preservation of documents. 

One Drive

OneDrive is the new HomeDrive: it is the personal storage location for individual employees that encompasses files, both within the Microsoft ecosystem and outside of M365. OneDrive is built on top of SharePoint, so it allows for more features, such as synchronizing information between a person drive in a local environment to a shared environment on SharePoint. It also allows for personal drive content to be accessed anywhere, is integrated with Microsoft Graph which allows for insight into how information is used, and gives control on who can access content within the organization. The personal drive is a useful tool for collaborating with others while maintaining control over one’s own content because it allows for easily enabling and disabling of access (such as for comments). One-on-one chats are stored on OneDrive, including documents shared via chat.


Chats Teams Chats is an organization’s baseline instant messaging platform that will replace Skype. Teams Chats allows for modern attachments, which links to live documents and stores it within OneDrive. There are also such features such as giphys, stickers, emojis, praise and reactions, allowing for expressive communication during collaboration. However, expressive features may not be able to be reproduced in the same way as text. Organizations can disable certain expressive functions and should think about how to handle other expressive features, such as emojis and praise, that cannot be disabled. Organizations should consider specific retention policies for Team Chats and the modern attachments. Chats are retained in the user’s mailbox.

Channels Teams Channels allows for teams within the organization to share files and resources in real time, while allowing for different work streams with their own channels within the team. The channel allows selected team members to participate, manage, access, and collaborate in individual projects. Auto deletion and retention are applicable at the team level (not the channel level). Data from channel is not stored in the email inbox, but are found once entering the channels. There are communications mechanisms, such as Post (where members can chat), Wiki (where information can be shared), and a SharePoint site (where documents can be stored). Channel can be thought of as a portal through which different tools can be applied depending on the needs of the project. Channels has access controls that allow for privacy and limited access as needed. If working with outside businesses, the outside business can be added to a Team and have full collaboration capabilities within the Team, such as editing and collaborating. However, there is also sensitivity labeling so that Teams by default are labeled private and people need to explicitly added people to access information.

Audio/Visual Conferencing Teams AV allows invited members to communicate through video. There is also built-in chatting during videoconferences, with expressive features allowed. There are also sharing options, such as whiteboards, desktop, and specific apps within windows. Teams A/V has access control such as delegating to other participants and only allowing authenticated users to join conferences, creating protection from anonymous users.