Teams Replaces Commercial Cloud Trial with Exploratory Experience

New Exploratory Experience to Boost Numbers of Teams Users

Teams is on a roll right now with steady growth in the number of daily active users to 20 million. However, Microsoft still must convince 180 million other Office 365 users to embrace Teams (a nice addressable growth market for any app). Part of its strategy is a 1-year free trial of the commercial cloud version offered to allow prospective users to test Teams since June 2018.

Clearly a more evocative name was needed, so Microsoft has changed it to be the Teams Exploratory Experience, announced in Office 365 notification MC197570 on December 6. Microsoft will roll out the new experience in January 2020. Government and Education tenants are not eligible for the offer. Users of the commercial trial will be migrated to the new experience.

New and Improved Trial

Apart from the snazzy new name, the new experience includes an Exchange Online mailbox and email notifications to tenant administrators if someone in their tenant signs up to test Teams. Exchange Online is needed to schedule meetings, so it makes sense to include this license in the bundle made available to testers. In fact, a bunch of licenses spanning everything from Planner to Stream to SharePoint Online and Whiteboard, and even Yammer, is included to ensure that test users see Teams at its best.

Given that eligible users must be part of an Office 365 tenant, it’s likely that their account already holds many of the licenses (or more capable versions of the licenses) made available through the experience, especially for basic workloads like Exchange and SharePoint. See the Microsoft documentation for more information about managing test licenses.

Target Testers

To sign up for the Teams Exploratory Experience, people must have an account in an Office 365 tenant, the account cannot already be assigned a Teams licenses, and the tenant must allow end users to install trial apps and services.

You can disable the ability for users to sign up for tests through the Settings section of the Office 365 Admin Center. Go to User owned apps and services and uncheck the box allowing them to install trial apps and services (Figure 1).

Allowing Office 365 users to install trial apps
Figure 1: Allowing Office 365 users to install trial apps

The Logic of User-Run Tests

Of course, only heartless brutes would stop users running trial software, but given the blunt feedback Microsoft received when they tried to introduce self-service purchases for the Power Platform apps, I wonder many enterprise Office 365 tenants are happy for these trials to happen. The logic here is if Microsoft does not give users a way to test software like Teams, they will likely go and use something like Slack instead, and that causes its own set of problems for both Microsoft and the tenant.


The option to disable users signing up for trial apps and services is just one of those hidden capabilities that exists inside Office 365. Maybe a guide would help to unearth hidden gems? Like the Office 365 for IT Pros eBook?

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3 Replies to “Teams Replaces Commercial Cloud Trial with Exploratory Experience”

  1. My issue with this was that they made it on by default, didn’t do a good job of informing everyone it was happening, and allowed users that didn’t have an office 365 license to engage in the trial. At the end of the trial are we defaulted to pay? None of this was clear. I appreciate the Gesture Microsoft, but the least you could’ve done was let us know first and not default it to on. FWIW–we rolled people into teams about 3 weeks before this rolled out.

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