Microsoft’s New My Groups Page

Self-Service Group Management for End Users But OWA Option is Broken

By now, your tenant should have received the code for the “My Groups experience” described in message center notification MC522581 (updated on 18 April, 2023). Even though Microsoft predicted that they would complete worldwide deployment by late May, I haven’t invested any time in reviewing what value the new experience delivers. Now that we’ve published Office 365 for IT Pros (2024 edition), I plunged into My Groups to see what it can deliver.

The New My Groups Experience

The new My Groups page (Figure 1) replaces an older page that really didn’t get much attention. Microsoft says that the upgraded and refreshed experience “enables end users to easily manage groups, such as finding groups to join, managing groups they own, and managing existing group memberships.” Of course, self-service management depends on a tenant allowing this activity.

The My Groups page
Figure 1: The My Groups page

Microsoft’s documentation for My Groups explains the available functionality. Generally, everything works well for Microsoft 365 and security groups as you can update membership and group properties, and even delete the groups. My Groups can’t handle dynamic Microsoft 365 Groups through. This isn’t surprising as the membership of these groups is dictated by queries executed against Azure AD that “normal” users probably couldn’t construct.

The biggest issue with My Groups is its lack of support for distribution lists (groups), or as they’re referred to by My Groups, “Exchange mastered” objects. Distribution lists are valid Azure AD group objects (dynamic distribution lists only exist in Exchange Online) and the methods to update distribution list properties and membership are well known. It’s therefore a mystery why Microsoft should launch a page purporting to enable end-user management of groups when the page is incapable of dealing with a major group type.

The only conclusion I can reach is that the team that developed the My Groups page has an agenda to advance Microsoft 365 groups as the answer for all forms of collaboration. Of course, this is a ridiculous stance, but metrics drive behavior and it’s not unknown for people to do odd things when they’re set a task to advance one option over another. In any case, the lack of support for distribution lists makes the My Groups page a flawed and incomplete implementation that should have been much better.

OWA Distribution Group Management

At the same time, Microsoft has make changes (temporarily) to the ability for users to manage distribution lists through OWA. From a technical perspective, this is understandable because distribution list management depended on components from the old Exchange management center (ECP) that OWA reused. With the demise of the old EAC, those components are less accessible. Now, when you choose the Distribution groups option in OWA settings, you see an unwanted advertisement to use Microsoft 365 groups and a link to a “portal” to manage distribution lists (Figure 2).

Distribution group management option in OWA
Figure 2: Distribution group management option in OWA

The portal ( is no more than the old ECP component. Unlike the previous implementation, it takes between ten and fifteen seconds for the ECP code to load. Eventually, the “portal” appears (Figure 3).

The ECP interface to manage distribution lists
Figure 3: The ECP interface to manage distribution lists

On the upside, changes applied through user role assignment policies to restrict users from creating new distribution lists work. On the downside, the code used to update distribution list membership is terrible and doesn’t work. At least, I got tired of waiting to add a new member after sixty seconds of watching the circle of death rotating (Figure 4).

Waiting to update distribution list membership
Figure 4: Waiting to update distribution list membership

Little Evidence of Joined Up Thinking

It’s obvious that no joined up thinking exists within Microsoft when it comes to delivering functionality to allow end user to edit groups that they own. The old OWA distribution list code worked well but only handle distribution lists, and now it’s broken. The new My Groups page works for Microsoft 365 groups but ignores distribution lists. Is it any wonder why people become exasperated with how Microsoft delivers software, especially when it’s to do with features that have worked for years that fail when engineers step in to enhance their capabilities.

Insight like this doesn’t come easily. You’ve got to know the technology and understand how to look behind the scenes. Benefit from the knowledge and experience of the Office 365 for IT Pros team by subscribing to the best eBook covering Office 365 and the wider Microsoft 365 ecosystem.

3 Replies to “Microsoft’s New My Groups Page”

  1. Well they went full Microsoft on this one. As a group owner you had the ability to add a new guest user as member to the group even if this guest user was not invited yet. This would automatically send an invite to the guest user. Well guess what, this production functionality has been completely removed from this “new experience”. I wonder why hmmmmmmmm is it because they want you to do this with a more expensive license such as AAD Identity Governance which is part of AAD P2. Oh wait no they JUST also announced Microsoft Entra Identity Governance, a very vague product that holds all AAD P2 features but seems to exists because Microsoft smelled they could make more money by micro segmenting existing features.

    Shame on you Microsoft.

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.