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Updates to Group Creation Settings in Azure AD Admin Center

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Changes to Close Off Creation Gaps in Administrative Interfaces

Message center notification MC275349 (August 3) informs tenant administrators of the need to check the group creation settings in the Azure AD admin center. Previously, these settings governed the ability of users to create new security groups and Microsoft 365 groups through the Azure AD admin center. However, the setting did not govern other administrative interfaces such as PowerShell or the Microsoft Graph Groups API. The new settings (Figure 1) cover all administrative interfaces and are now in place.

Figure 1: The Groups creation settings in the Azure AD admin center

Microsoft advises checking your tenant settings to make sure that the change has not affected the way your organization manages group creation. I haven’t seen any issue in any tenant I use, but it’s good to be sure.

Groups-Specific Controls

Azure AD settings apply to administrative interfaces. Other controls exist at an application level. The best example of this is Microsoft 365 Groups, which use an Azure AD directory policy to store settings used to control different aspects of groups. The default value for the EnableGroupCreation setting is True, meaning that any user can create a new Microsoft 365 group. If False, the GroupCreationAllowedGroupId setting comes into play. This defines the GUID of a group whose members are allowed to create new groups.

Controlling group creation in this way requires Azure AD P1 Premium licenses. Many large organizations have Microsoft 365 plans which include these licenses so the requirement not usually an issue.

What’s a little more problematic for some is the lack of a GUI to control most of the policy settings (the naming policy and blocked words settings are available in the Azure AD admin center). Six years or thereabouts since the introduction of the directory policy for Teams, the lack of a complete GUI means that administrators must use PowerShell to access and update the other policy settings, including group creation.

For instance, to find out the set of users allowed to create groups and the name of the group defined in the policy, we can use this code:

$Values = Get-AzureADDirectorySetting | ?{$_.DisplayName -eq "Group.Unified"}
$GroupId = $Values.Values |?{$_.Name -eq "GroupCreationAllowedGroupId" } | Select -ExpandProperty Value
Write-Host ("The name of the group defined by policy to control group creation is {0} and its object identifier is {1}" -f (Get-AzureADGroup -ObjectId $GroupId).DisplayName, $GroupId)
Get-AzureADGroupMember -ObjectId $GroupId

The name of the group defined by policy to control group creation is GroupCreationControl and its object identifier is 12cb915b-2365-4bed-baf6-6257b3543273

ObjectId                             DisplayName                 UserPrincipalName                     UserType
--------                             -----------                 -----------------                     --------
bff4cd58-1bb8-4898-94de-795f656b4a18 Tony Redmond                Tony.Redmond@office365itpros.com      Member
edc6b121-44b8-4261-9ca7-3603a16caa3e Andy Ruth (Director)        Andy.Ruth@office365itpros.com         Member
43d08764-07d4-418c-8203-a737a8fac7b3 Global Tenant Administrator GblAdmin@office365itpros.com          Member

To modify the group used to control group creation, we must update the directory policy. For example, this code retrieves values for the group we want to use and the current settings and uses the values with the Set-AzureADDirectorySetting cmdlet to update the directory policy.

$ObjectId = (Get-AzureADGroup -SearchString "Group Creation Allowed").ObjectId
$Settings = Get-AzureADDirectorySetting | ? {$_.DisplayName -eq "Group.Unified"}
$Settings[“GroupCreationAllowedGroupId”] = $ObjectId
Set-AzureADDirectorySetting -Id $Settings.Id -DirectorySetting $Settings

Outlook Creation

The GroupCreationEnabled setting in the OWA mailbox policy assigned to mailboxes was the original control mechanism for group creation (OWA was the first client to support Office 365 Groups, as they were named in 2014). This setting persists today and must be True to allow users to create new groups with an Outlook client.

This article contains a more comprehensive treatment of the steps to control the creation of Microsoft 365 Groups.

Not Much Impact?

I suspect that the changes being made won’t affect many of the tenants who control group creation. Tenants that allow users to create groups and teams as they wish probably won’t be affected either, but they have other issues to cope with like a higher proportion of aging and obsolete groups. In any case, the change is a reasonable one to introduce, even if I wish Microsoft would spend some time on other obvious deficiencies, like the lack of a GUI for the Groups directory policy.


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