Today’s annoying Office 365 featurette?  Tenant name reuse, or lack thereof.

When you’re signing up an O365 tenant (which for various reasons I have done a few times recently) you have to choose your tenant name – the bit that goes in front of the ‘.onmicrosoft.com’ – for most folks you’ll want this to be memorable, relevant and possibly brand matched (for me for instance, sebmatthews.onmicrosoft.com makes good sense).  Ultimately is does not matter a whole heap for things like email as you can add your own domains for email but for URLs and SharePoint site collections, etc. its just nice to have a relevant tenant name, right?

So here’s the rub.  For some reason you choose a tenant name (let’s just say “hotlobster.onmicrosoft.com”) and you make your way through the signup process which at a later stage, for whatever reason, fails.  No worries, you think.  I’ll just head back in, it’s a pain in the butt, sure, but I’ll work my way through the signup process again.  You get to the tenant name entry point and DAGNAMIT, “hotlobster” is ‘already in our system, please choose another name’.  Annoying.

This annoyance amplifies when you (as I have encountered recently) are trying to nail down tenant names that are trademarked product names.  Never fear! I’ll raise a ticket with Microsoft! Hurrah!

The annoyance further amplifies when the response given is:

“Allow me to inform you that all Office 365 accounts created without paid subscriptions activated on them will expire within 6 months from the date of activation and there is no way that would allow us to speed this process up. We could assist you only if you have activated Office 365 accounts with paid subscriptions activated on them…” (plus a whole lot more by email and telephone).

Short version?  If the provisioning request fails for any reason you’re locked out of using your desired tenant name for 6 months with no option to accelerate even if you can prove it was you that made the request.  Not ideal.

Ways around this?  None.  Ideas for avoiding this?  Microsoft seem to think that “unreliable internet connections” are the root of this problem (not their sign-up / provisioning stuff) which will almost certainly be the case for some failures.  For one, I get a failure rate of about 15% for O365 signups and sure, some might be due to slightly wonky internet connections but based on many of the error messages I have seen it’s not all in the pipework.

I guess the consideration here is one that lots of people are concerned about – the power the service provider has in the context of how ‘important’ they see a process to be in their road-map.  Pragmatically and when compared to some Cloud concerns (security, sovereignty, etc.) this concern is pretty trivial, it is frustrating in many circumstances.

Oh, and Microsoft – any chance you could improve the moribund process?  Ta.

more to follow…