Perhaps you want to try out the latest preview features for the Power Platform, or maybe you are preparing for a Microsoft certification exam or even just taking an in-person or online class. In each of these scenarios, you will want to have an actual environment to get your hands dirty.
The question was asked recently on the CRMUG MB-200 Study Group webinar on how to get an environment to prepare to write that certification exam. Hopefully these instructions will be clear on how to setup a fully functional Office 365 tenant with Dynamics 365 and the Power Platform.
Sample Environment Options
There are a number of ways to get a temporary (and free) environment. If you are a Microsoft Partner or an MVP you can create demo environments at https://demos.microsoft.com that contain fully configured Microsoft 365 tenants with sample data and apps.
If you just need a single PowerApps environment, you can sign up at the PowerApps community site to get a dedicated developer environment added to your companies tenant (if your company policy allows this).
In a lot of cases, you may want to have a full, unencumbered environment with all the features and services available for integration (including Office 365 Apps like Exchange and Teams).
The following will show you how to get a 60 day temporary environment with all the features to allow you to learn, experiment and solidify your understanding of how the Power Platform operates.
Setting up a Clean Browser
If you are using the experiment Edge browser or Google Chrome, you have the ability to create a new profile that doesn’t have any knowledge of history of any past Microsoft accounts that you may be associated to.
Simply click in the upper right corner where there is a symbol or icon and then select “Add a profile” and give it an appropriate name.
If you don’t do the above step, then when you attempt to sign up for a new trial the browser may try to login using your existing Microsoft credentials;
Setting up a New Trial
Using you new profile on an open browser, click on the following link to create an Office 365 E5 Trial with Dynamics 365.
DO NOT CLICK “Want to add to an existing subscription” as it will ask you to login using your work account and add a trial subscription to your work tenant. Your systems administrator may not appreciate this (and you may not even have the credentials)
NOTE: If you want JUST the Dynamics 365 Apps and not other Office 365 features like Exchange and Teams, you can start a trial by going to https://trials.dynamics.com and choose the “Are signing up on behalf of a customer or for development purposes?”. This will follow a similar process, but you won’t have items like Exchange or Teams. Depending on my requirement, I prefer a full Office 365 trial to test out the various Office 365 integrations.
Fill in the details, you should use a working email for this step. Note that the country you select will determine the data center to which the trial will be installed. This doesn’t necessary have to be the country you live in. Some countries (like Canada) are the first to get certain features that may not yet be available in your nearest data center. However, if you want to extent the trial from 30 to 60 days (see below), you will need a credit card issued from the country that it has been configure for.
The next step is the create an id and a name. This can be anything you want but it does have to be unique. If you pick your company name, you may find that has already been taken. I tend to follow a standard naming convention followed by a number.
You will need to enter a mobile number to get a message texted to you continue the process.
WARNING! If you setup a LOT of trials (e.g. a classroom setting) and use the same mobile number from the same location (IP address) you will eventually get a warning message and will be put in “trial jail” for creating too many trials. Getting out of trial jail is NOT easy, but after a couple of months, you should be able to create trials again from the same mobile number and IP address.
Since trials are free, this presents an actual hard cost to Microsoft, so I would recommend setting up trials sparingly.
If you find yourself in “trail jail” situation;
- Borrow a friend’s mobile number (web-generated temp mobile numbers will not work)
- Create the trial from an Azure VM (Microsoft will not block their own IP addresses)
- Consider other options like demos.microsoft.com or the community plan.
- You can reset instances on trials so you may be able to recycle another trial you had setup earlier.
Assuming you are not in trial jail, enter in the code that has been texted to you.
Note the links to return to your trial Office 365 Tenant once it has been created. Click “Start Setup” to continue.
For purposed of learning and testing, you can use the “onmicrosoft.com” domain. If you do decide to convert to a paid subscription, you can update the URL to your own domain at that time.
There will be a series of steps to further configure Office 365. You do not need to complete these steps. Click Next through each step or click on the “exit and continue later” link.
At the end of the main Office 365 setup, click on “Go to the Admin center” to configure specific features of Office 365 (such as Dynamics 365)
The Microsoft 365 Admin Center will appear. On the left hand navigation, click on “Show All”
Click on the “Admin Centers”. This will show the Admin Centers that are currently configured. You will notice that the Dynamics 365 Admin Center likely does not appear yet. Wait a few moments and refresh your browser.
You will notice that new Admin Centers will begin to appear on the page. Wait a few minutes and refresh again.
Eventually the Dynamics 365 Admin Center will appear. Click on it to complete the configuration of your trial tenant.
The process will begin to setup the Dynamics 365 Customer Engagement “Apps” (Remember, Dynamics 365 apps are just 1st party PowerApps.) At this point you can choose which apps (Sales, Service, Field Service, Project Service or “‘all of the above” or even no specific apps (however, the legacy “CRM” apps will still be installed). You can add these apps later if you change your mind.
After a few moments, the Dynamics 365 Apps will be installed and you can begin to use these apps for your learning and experimentation.
If you navigate to https://make.powerapps.com you will also be able to create your own model-driven, canvas or portal PowerApps.
You can also setup blank environments and configure CDS databases without any of the 1st party Dynamics 365 Apps.
Can I have an Extension?
After 30 days if you still want to continue the trial, you have the option to extend it ONCE. You will need a credit card (this won’t be charged) and the credit card billing address will need to be located in the same country as you specified when you first configured the trial.
The best way to learn any new technology is to actually use and experiment with it. Microsoft does make it fairly easy to setup and configure trial environments to facilitate this. By configuring a full Office 365 E5 trial subscription, you will be able to configure things like Server Side Sync with Exchange and Teams integration. Be aware of setting up too many trials, as it cause your mobile number and IP address to be blocked which will prevent you from creating any new trials.
Nick Doelman is a Microsoft Business Applications MVP and has spent time in trial jail. For news and updates on the Power Platform, Dynamics 365 and Portals (and maybe the odd post on Powerlifting and the CFL) then follow Nick on twitter at https://twitter.com/readyxrm