If you’re looking to setup an Office 365 E3 or E5 Trial Tenant, Microsoft allows for this from the Microsoft Office website. These tenants last for 30 days and give you the ability to try a tenant and the Office 365 services. If you need to setup a tenant quickly, here are the links:
- E3 – https://go.microsoft.com/fwlink/p/?LinkID=403802
- E5 – https://go.microsoft.com/fwlink/p/?LinkID=698279
Unless you happen to click on one of the aforementioned links, it takes a little bit of navigating through pages to find the “Free Trial” links for the Enterprise Shop Keeper Units (SKU) specific to the E3 and E5 subscription plans. If you’re curious what the difference between these plans are, head over to the Office 365 Service Description at http://www.office365sd.com.
1 – Open your modern browser of choice (Firefox, Opera, Chrome, Edge, Internet Explorer) and head over to http://www.office.com
Clicking on the “For Business” button on the page will take you to the Office 365 services for businesses and enterprises. Selecting “For Home” will take you to a separate set of offerings that are similar to the Enterprise level software but targeted at consumers.
2 – This brings the user to a page that describes the business software and services offering in greater detail.
To navigate to the actual plans and pricing, click on the button labeled “See Plans and Pricing”.
3 – Observe that business plans are displayed, however make note that these are aligned to small business Office 365 plans. When Office 365 first started these were referred to as the “P” plans which were targeted at businesses that were not necessarily looking for full integration with on-premises systems.
From the left hand column under the heading “Looking for more?” select the “See options for enterprise” to display the Enterprise level plans providing capabilities targeted to Enterprise users and administrators.
4 – There are several different flavours of Office 365 Enterprise plans. These range from licensing the Office desktop client as a subscription to providing for online capabilities to help users collaborate, communicate and analyze their daily workflow.
At first blush, it seems that each of the plans requires a credit card to make a purchase, however if you scroll down to the bottom of the page, you’ll notice two links under the Office 365 Enterprise E3 and E5 columns that note a Free Trial.
5 – Scrolling through the page, several different capabilities can be reviewed as to the differences between each of the plans. This is a subset of what can be reviewed at the aforementioned Office 365 Service Description referenced above.
Selecting the Free Trial button for Office 365 Enterprise E3 or E5 will lead to a page similar to what is shown in the next steps.
6 – By selecting the free trial link from the Office.com website within the English US locality, the page will automatically select the United States within the first selector. Note that this selection is incredibly important as not all capabilities are available to all countries.
Entering information into the form and clicking continue will provide the information that will be used for sending information about the service as well as what will show in the billing component of the Office 365 tenant. Note that this is a free trial and that at the end of the 30 day period, at present, the tenant becomes non-operational and expires.
7 – The next step requires creating what is referred to as a Global Administrator account for the Office 365 tenant. This account has privileges across all of the core capabilities to include SharePoint, Skype for Business and Exchange. This is a single user account and should be protected to ensure that the content housed within Office 365 is protected.
Additionally, the tenant name is determined during this step. This name cannot be changed once it is set. This name shows up in multiple places – by default this is the user’s cloud identity (e.g. firstname.lastname@example.org). This can be masked through the registration of a domain from another registrar (or through Microsoft) so as to have a user name like email@example.com. Additionally, collaboration sites for SharePoint will include the tenant name as a part of the URL (contoso.sharepoint.com). While it’s possible to have a CNAME record to mask the name initially, it will revert to Microsoft’s URL naming schema.
8 – To reduce the number of individuals that are attempting to make use of Microsoft’s services without paying for them, Microsoft requires that during the provisioning process the individual setting the tenant up prove that they’re not a robot. This requires that the individual setting up the tenant make use of Multi Factor Authentication to provide a phone number to have the individual verify a code sent either by SMS or by a phone call.
If you don’t happen to have a phone that can receive a phone call or a text you’re not going to be able to complete the tenant provisioning process.
9 – After a few moments of the spinning balls made famous by Microsoft SharePoint Server 2013’s “Working On It” blue spinning balls, a confirmation of the tenant being provisioned is displayed. This page includes key information to include the Office 365 Portal URL and the Global Administrator account login name just created based on information provided during the provisioning process.
At this point the Office 365 system is provisioning the tenant and associated services. Clicking on the “You’re ready to go” will take the individual to the portal landing page of available services. Note that this user is a Global Administrator and may see some tiles that other users won’t see.
10 – The default landing page of Office 365 can be access at https://portal.office.com. This landing page can be customized for the administrator to point to either the Office portal landing page or the Office 365 Admin Center. On the landing page, tiles representing the various services appear here for the user to select. If a new service is added to a portal, tiles may be grayed out as they provision to the user base.
There are default messages that Office 365 will launch on the landing page to remind the user to install the desktop client software (Office 2016 via Click to Run distribution).
11 – Clicking on the Admin button will take a Global Administrator to the Office 365 Admin Center. If a user is not an administrator this button will not be available to them.
The Office 365 Admin center allows administrators to configure the capabilities of Office 365 through the web UI to include domains, users, services, etc. Additional interfaces to the Admin capabilities include PowerShell and dependent on other licensing through the Azure portal.
At this point, you’ve setup a tenant that will operate as a fully capable tenant for the duration of the trial. Once the tenant expires, services and capabilities will be diminished. Once the retention period has expired for the tenant, it will be deleted including all content.
Be wary of your users and make certain that they understand that the portal is just a trial and that they will lose their data when it expires unless they move the data out manually.