Do you want to get started learning Microsoft Intune and start a new Intune lab environment? Or running your Microsoft Intune lab tenant on trial licenses that expire every x months (and therefore you need to start from scratch again every time)!? Read this blog post further, and I show you how you can get started with a free Microsoft Intune lab tenant.
It becomes more and more known, but I still talk to people who have no idea you can open a Microsoft 365 tenant for free as long as you don’t use it for production. That is possible by joining the Microsoft 365 Developer program! By doing that, you’ll get a Microsoft 365 E5 Developer subscription with 25 user licenses. This is an E5 license without Windows and Audio Conferencing, but it includes for example Azure AD Premium P2 and Microsoft Intune licenses. All you need to set up your Microsoft Intune lab tenant. But also if you want to play around with other Microsoft 365 stuff, like Exchange Online, this Dev subscription covers you.
The good thing is, that the license is active for three months, but when you actively use your subscription, it is automatically renewed (I’m running my tenant with a Dev subscription already for years).
There is one downside, you can’t add a Developer subscription to an existing Microsoft 365 tenant, you need to open a new environment.
How to get a Microsoft 365 Developer subscription?
Getting started is pretty simple, you must join the Microsoft 365 Developer program. The current link to the website of the program is found here.
And if it is changed, you will find it via your favorite search engine.
If you click the Join now button, you’re redirected to the setup page.
I started my tenant by using a private Microsoft account, filling in a fictive company name, choosing my language preference, and hitting Next.
Next, we need to make a choice in the sort of sandbox we want to set up. We can choose an Instant sandbox with preconfigured fictitious users and some sample data and a preconfigured domain name. Or we choose to fully start from scratch and choose a Configurable sandbox.
Something to note certainly when you choose the instant sandbox, note down the domain name, because it’s just some random characters.
If you choose the Instant Sandbox, you only have to select the data center region, enter an admin username and password and choose to enter an alternative password for the fictitious users.
If you choose the Configurable sandbox, you only need to select the country, enter an admin username and password and select a domain name.
You need to verify your identity by phone.
And you get an overview of what is configured so far.
And that’s all we need to do to get a Microsoft 365 Developer subscription!
If you open the Microsoft 365 admin center and browse Billing, Licenses and open the Microsoft 365 E5 license, you can see the pre-configured users which already have the license assigned.
And via the Microsoft Azure portal, under Azure Active Directory, Licenses we can also see which licenses are part of the E5 developer subscription. And that’s a lot to play with, like Microsoft Intune.
Add a domain name
To get the most out of your new subscription, you can add a domain name to the subscription (ok, the domain name is not free, but shouldn’t cost you a fortune). It makes using the environment a little easier. But you can also use the tenant without an additional domain and use the onmicrosoft.com, but if you can miss the few dollars, purchase a domain name for your lab tenant.
In the M365 admin center, we can easily add an additional domain via the Setup page. Just start the Guided setup.
Enter your domain and click User this domain.
You need to verify the domain to show you own the domain. This can for example be done by adding a TXT record to the domain’s DNS records.
Enter the requested information to the TXT record (below is just an example!) and verify the DNS record.
If you’re new to this, you can also follow the step-by-step instruction via the setup wizard.
If you have verified your domain, you can select the features which you are going to use in your tenant and the wizard shows the required DNS records you need to add to your DNS records. For setting up Intune, you only need to add the enterpriseregistration and enterpriseenrollment DNS records.
It could take some time to verify the existence of the newly added DNS records, so be patient.
But when the DNS records are found, the setup is completed.
The basics are configured for your lab tenant. We have the required Microsoft Intune license for Mobile Device Management and Azure AD license for automatic enrolment. And we have configured an additional domain name, which is optional but recommended.
What else do we need to configure?
You can now start your journey in the Microsoft Endpoint Managed admin center (Microsoft Intune portal).
When you browse to devices, Windows, Windows enrollment, You can find everything related to windows enrollment.
From this tab, we can for example configure Automatic enrollment and Deployment profile for Windows Autopilot.
When you browse to Android, Android enrollment, you can link your Managed Google Play account so you’re able to enroll Android devices.
I described that process in a previous article.
Under iOS/ iPadOS or macOS, you can find the enrollment settings for Apple devices. A requirement for enrolling Apple devices is to have an Apple MDM Push certificate.
If you are going to use Windows Autopilot enrollment, don’t forget to configure Company Branding. the company Branding section can be found in the Azure portal, under Azure Active Directory.
At a minimum, you need to configure the logos otherwise the Windows Autopilot authentication page will not show on your Windows devices.
Besides configuring the enrollment settings, you can (need to) configure Configuration and Compliance policies for every supported OS. But also think about starting with Windows Update for business by configuring Feature update rings. Or take a look at the Endpoint Analytics section.
It’s too much to name it all. But if your are new to Microsoft Intune, you have enough time to discover it all as the subscription will renew after three months 😉
Great article! Any idea if you can get the tenant to show in your partner center as my use case would be to use as a lab tenant for configurations that we would push via a third-party tool that utilises partner to customer secure application model stuff.
No, I’ve no idea. Haven’t been working with the partner center for years.
Thanks a lot for the tip and journey
For those looking into the deffs between the regular and dev subscription (not everything is covered):
Thanks for the very usefull Information! I just started with the MS Cloud Solutions and want to build my own Testlab at Home (already got the OnPrem ConfigManager Testlab). I have a question which is burning a bit on the stomach. We use the Microsoft Cloud Mail Solution (Microsoft Exchange Online I believe) for which we pay a yearly Fee. I have an Account firstname.lastname@example.org with which we manage our Subscription and all othe Microsoft Services. Can I use the same Mail Address to set up the Testlab without messing up any other Services? I just do not like to get in trouble with Configurations which will mess up my productive usage of Mail. I have registered a specific Domain Name für the Testlab.
Hope you can help me out on this one!
Best Regards en groetjes uit Zwitserland
Rienus van Hees