Updated 2 months ago

Creating a Free Microsoft 365 Dev Tenant is Not Possible

by Sudha

3 min read

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The Microsoft 365 Developer Program provides users with a valuable opportunity to create a free E5 test tenant, allowing them to explore, test, and evaluate Microsoft 365’s features before implementing them in their production tenant. However, in recent times, the question below regarding the creation of a free E5 test tenant revolves everywhere across online forums.

Errors while signing up for free Microsoft 365 E5 tenant – “You don’t currently qualify for a Microsoft 365 Developer Program sandbox subscription”.

But none of us knew the reason behind it. However, Microsoft has recently addressed this issue in their latest announcement. They clarified that access to Microsoft 365 developer subscription is now limited to developers/organizations with active subscriptions to Visual Studio Enterprise.

In simple, users who don’t possess a Visual Studio Enterprise subscription can no longer create a Microsoft 365 developer subscription.

What might be the reason?

We guess, but not sure! On Jan 12, Microsoft detected an attack by Midnight Blizzard on their corporate email systems. After investigating, they analyzed the attack’s roots. They found that the Midnight Blizzard group conducted password spray attacks on non-production system that was no longer used. Then they compromised a legacy test OAuth application that had elevated access to the Microsoft corporate environment.

The root cause appears to be related to test tenants, as we usually don’t set the same level of security settings we have in the production environment. Also, these tenants were consistently being used by malicious actors for spam purposes. As a precautionary security measure, Microsoft may consider pausing users from creating test tenants.

Will the New Update Affect Users with Existing Enterprise Subscription?

The new update will not affect users who already have an existing E5 subscription. They can continue to utilize their E5 subscription as usual without any changes.

However, those who do not currently qualify for an E5 tenant cannot sign up for a free Microsoft 365 developer account. Instead, Microsoft advises acquiring a single-license Microsoft plan for testing purposes.

Note: Users who are members of the below “Microsoft AI Cloud Partner Program” can receive access to developer subscriptions by contacting their Microsoft partner.

  • ISV Success
  • Solutions Partner
  • Specialization/Expert Managed Partners
  • Premier or Unified Support plan members

Furthermore, Microsoft has introduced several other updates to the Microsoft Developer Program other than the limitation in creating a free Microsoft 365 E5 developer tenant. Let’s see them below.

Latest Updates on Microsoft 365 Developer Program

  • Complete Removal of Microsoft 365 E3 Subscription: Initially, the Microsoft 365 Developer Program offered E3 subscriptions to users. Then, they’ve transitioned to offering E5 subscriptions. For now, Microsoft is in the last step of phasing out the original E3 tenant offer. If you’re currently using an old E3 subscription, you’re advised to purchase new paid plans before April 1, 2024.
  • Frequent Renewal Checks: Microsoft will be conducting more frequent checks on developer activity to ensure that the subscription is being used for its intended purpose. Subscriptions will be renewed based on users’ activities. Failure to comply with the terms and conditions may result in the removal of Developer Program membership.
  • Location-limited Access: Due to security concerns, access to the Microsoft 365 Developer Program is now restricted to specific countries/regions. Users can verify their eligibility by checking the list of supported countries.
  • Additional Service Plans: The Microsoft 365 developer E5 subscription now includes service plans that were previously missing.

Note: If this update impacts your organization, we encourage you to engage with the “Microsoft 365 Developer Research Panel” and share any ideas or concerns you may have. Your feedback plays a crucial role in shaping future updates and enhancements to the Microsoft Developer Program.

We hope this blog has clarified the doubt you had regarding the limitations of users to create a free Microsoft 365 E5 developer tenant. If you have any further questions or concerns, please contact us in the comment section below. We’re here to assist you!

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