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Example of Ongoing Changes in Microsoft 365
I guess we all knew it was coming (after all, Microsoft published message center notification MC477013 in December 2022), but the news that the Microsoft Entra admin center (Figure 1) will replace the Azure AD admin center from April 1, 2023 is yet another example of the ongoing and constant changes in Microsoft 365. Those changes range from a massive introduction of fundamental new functionality, like Microsoft 365 Copilot, to a small update to how something appears.
In this instance, Microsoft portraits the replacement of the Azure AD admin center as a unification of its identity management platform (Azure AD) with its identity and access solutions. Another way of looking at the move is that it allows Microsoft to bring those identity and access solutions to the attention of some organizations who wouldn’t otherwise consider them. Every time you open the Entra admin center, identity governance and other solutions will be there to discover. To be fair to Microsoft, if you access Azure AD from the Microsoft 365 admin center, the link goes direct to the Azure AD section of the Entra admin center.
Microsoft says that the old Azure AD admin center will continue to function until May 2023. Azure customers who don’t use Microsoft 365 can manage Azure AD through the Azure portal.
Many Rebranding Campaigns
Microsoft is well known for its love of rebranding campaigns. Microsoft 365 has steadily embraced a huge ecosystem, including the subscription version of the Office apps, and we’ll probably have to rename the next version of the Office 365 for IT Pros eBook to use Microsoft 365 instead. Microsoft Purview is another example, albeit one that at least collected together a bunch of different compliance solutions under a common banner. Defender did the same for security solutions, and so on.
Sometimes, Microsoft makes changes for what appears to be no good reason. Take the announcement in MC532194 (March 23) that Teams now uses an “EA” indicator instead of “P” when users run the preview version of the software. I’m still wondering why “Early Access” is any better than “Preview.” The change appears to deliver zero added value except that it aligns with the nomenclature Microsoft uses in places like the Office Insider program. From my perspective, the change meant that we needed to update Chapter 15 in the Office 365 for IT Pros eBook and our article about Teams preview.
Naming Changes Affect the Wider Technical Community
Microsoft makes naming changes for its own reasons. I doubt that they take the wider community into consideration when they decide on these updates but the effect of a naming change or rebrand ripple through documentation and training. For instance, video training companies that have a program telling people how to use the Azure AD admin center must now update their collateral and perhaps even reshoot some or all of their video. That’s a big cost for the production company.
The same is true for books that cover Azure AD or any of the other topics affected by naming or branding changes. Switching references from the Azure AD admin center to the Entra admin center isn’t quite as simple as doing a search and replace. Microsoft often takes the opportunity to rename options in administrative consoles when they change things. Data lifecycle management is now the place in the Purview compliance portal that was once known as the location for the management of retention labels and policies. The justification is that the section of the portal now spans additional options such as adaptive scopes, policy lookup, and legacy Exchange mailbox retention policies and tags (both of which are still very useful).
Changes in Microsoft 365 Will Keep on Happening
I don’t expect Microsoft to poll the technical community before they change the name of anything inside Microsoft 365. It won’t happen and would be unreasonable. Microsoft will continue to make changes how and when they like, even if the outcome displeases some. Their decision to stop accepting inbound email from old and vulnerable on-premises Exchange servers to protect Exchange Online is a good example of a change that inflamed many opinions. However, we don’t get to vote.
Content producers like Office 365 for IT Pros simply need to be proactive and respond to Microsoft changes the best way we can. In that respect, being able to publish a complete new book every month is a major advantage, even if it takes a lot of hard work. Now back to the task of looking for all those references to the Azure AD admin center – a change that we’ll probably make in the May 2023 update.