Microsoft recently announced the public preview of group-based license management in Office 365. Here are a few key facts about license management with Office 365 Groups:
- Group-based licensing is only available through the Azure portal. You can continue to use the Office 365 portal, but when managing licenses with Groups, you should use the Azure portal.
- A paid or trial subscription of Azure AD basic or premium is required. Also, any user that inherits licensing from Groups must have the Azure AD license assigned to them.
- Licenses can be assigned to any security group in Azure AD (including synced from on-premises, Groups created in Azure AD, and Groups via the Azure AD Dynamic Group feature)
- After a product is assigned to a Group, an administrator can disable one or more of the service plans in the product.
- All Microsoft cloud services that require user-level licensing are supported, including all Office 365 products, Enterprise Mobility + Security, and Dynamics CRM.
- Azure AD automatically handles license modifications. These modifications are effective within minutes of a membership change.
- A user can be a member of multiple license groups.
- Licenses cannot be assigned to a user if there are not enough available licenses in the tenant.
To assign licenses to an Office 365 Group, open the Office 365 portal and create a new Office 365 Group. After that Group has been created, go to the Azure portal to assign licensing to it. Navigate to the Licenses tab and click Products to see the licenses available for your tenant. Select the license you want to manage and click Assign. Two options are available:
- Configure required settings: Allows you to select one or more Groups to assign control of the selected license.
- Assignment options (optional): Options that administrators can control such as enable/disable applications like Planner and StaffHub.
Click Assign to begin the assignment process. After a few minutes you can see the results by clicking on the license again.
If you’ve previously assigned licenses directly to users, you can remove them by selecting multiple users and clicking Remove. The Azure portal will prompt you whether you want to remove the direct assignments. Microsoft has a document outlining the migration process from direct licensing to Group licensing.
If a user is removed from a Group and they lose their license, Office 365 suspends the account rather than disabling it. This is to avoid data loss and the accidental disabling of user accounts.
How can you try it? Go to the Azure portal and test it out for yourself. You will need an active subscription for Azure AD Basic or above. If you don’t have one, sign up for a trial. When this functionality becomes generally available, it will be included in Office 365 Enterprise E3 and similar products.