O365 Tenants for User Groups

Occasional Contributor

Until recently, there was an offer from the Microsoft Technical Communities Program (MSTC) for free O365 subscriptions to help collaboration within user groups (see https://technet.microsoft.com/en-us/dn550853.aspx). My user group made use of this offer, and has renewed the subscription each year (for free) by using a Yammer group which was linked from the original pages on technicalcommunity.com (which are no longer available). 


I've been in contact with both O365 support and the new Microsoft Tech Community about the status of this offer and the user groups which are reliant upon the O365 tenants. Thus far:

  • O365 Support has no offer or transition plan to assist. Instead, they have referred me to the Microsoft Tech Community folks.
  • Microsoft Tech Community replied with:

...we are looking to see if there is anything we can do to support this going forward but I am afraid at this time there is nothing further I can communicate.


I am sorry I do not have better news to share on this currently however we will publish any update to this position in the Community Events Speakers and Leader discussion board.

Each week, O365 contacts me to see if the Microsoft Tech Community has provided any updates, as my tenant (and others) will expire if nothing is done about this. It's likely that not many user groups are fully fledged non-profits that would qualify for other O365 offers, so without the assistance of Microsoft on this we will all be forced to either begin paying for our subscriptions or switch to alternative, more cost effective, solutions. User groups are often run by community members on a shoestring budget, so paying per month for these subscriptions is likely not a viable option for most.


As this is the forum mentioned by MS Tech Community... any updates?

45 Replies

@Eric Starker 

Eric, I just had the opportunity to talk with Jeff Teper, Microsoft Corporate Vice President Office 365
Founder of SharePoint 
at our local SharePoint Saturday event, he was the Keynote speaker. I was astonished to learn that he hadn't heard of the fact that the FREE licenses for User Groups were going away! He promised to look into it when he got back and hopefully he will be able to open the door to resolving this problem.

@Kevin York 

I am extremely disappointed that I could not make it. I am still in NJ helping family. Really upset. Thanks Frank. Your second name should be Awesome.

@DITUG President 

MEMUG ended up going to an O365 E1 license for our board members to manage e-mail, SharePoint, and Teams (although we're currently streaming via YouTube using Open Broadcast Studio rather that using Teams meetings). The E1 provides us with the web office apps, Teams with online meetings for up to 10,000 people, Exchange Online, and SharePoint (plus more) so it covers what we need to do with it.


However, we're lucky enough to have sponsors this year to cover our E1 licensing. At $8/month/user the cost can add up fast hence why we have limited it to board members only. Definitely disappointed in Microsoft's response to this and should we ever get to a point where we no longer have sponsors, we'll probably go back to a free product like Zoho.

@Dylan Snodgrass Sorry to beat a dead horse here, but the timing of the decision to do away with the user group licensing couldn't have been worse with COVID-19. Has there been any change of heart on this? Its hard enough to operate a user group, let alone during a pandemic without the collaboration tools we've come to rely on. Small groups like mine don't have the means to pay for E1 licenses, and this decision has essentially killed the once active user group. 

@Scott EricksonI am in the same boat. I come here researching and hoping if there is an option for the user groups to continue activities. We can't pay license fees as we don't have any sponsors

I know this is old question and we need official response from Microsoft.

From what I know offer is no longer available but in case you know any MVP or you are MVP, you will get Microsoft 365 subscriber and you could manage your group (make sure check it with MVP leads to make sure it is not against Term of Us).

I hope this offer become available for User Group Leaders because also due to COVID-19 , there are so many online events and to give a good impression on Microsoft products it would be nice to be fully on Microsoft cloud instead of third-party free products.