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O365 Tenant rename

It finally happened! It's now possible to change the SharePoint/OneDrive domain name for your organization in Microsoft 365. So, for example, if your organization's name changes from "Contoso" to "Fabrikam," you can change contoso.onmicrosoft.com to fabrikam.onmicrosoft.com. Unfortunately, organizations haven't had the option to do so — until now…

What is Tenant?

To reiterate quickly, a 'tenant' is an organization that's using Office 365 (Microsoft 365 now) products. The tenant is set up when you sign up for Microsoft 365 subscription. It affects OneDrive, SharePoint, Teams, or Power BI, i.e., all Microsoft products that support collaboration and external sharing. 

Ignorance is the first factor for a possible issue. I saw cases in my practice when organizations put whatever names in the 'tenant' field provisioning the Office 365 subscription. Those are lucky who discovered the problem it creates in the early stages. Otherwise, the wrong tenancy name results in the lengthy and painful migration process from one subscription to another (there was no way before you could just change the tenancy name once provisioned).


What are the other reasons for a tenancy name change?

  • Rebranding

It's a valid case. Companies do rebrand often. As a result – everything from employee login URLs to the SharePoint/OneDrive addresses we share with others has a specific address, i.e., brand name (company name) associated with them. Being able to rename the tenancy name is an important attribute of creating a more consistent brand experience

  • Company merge or acquisition

Whether you merge or acquire another company or are acquired, the goal is to institute a new company — which typically means that at least one part of the company will be adopting a new name.  For example, suppose two organizations are merging into a single M365 tenant. In that case, you can see how it'd be desirable to rename all public-facing content from 'oldname.onmicrosoft.com' to 'newname.onmicrosoft.com' to reflect the companies' new positioning

  • Tenancy name created by mistake

As mentioned before, it doesn't take a rebranding or a merger happening to make renaming desirable


Why wasn't this feature there before?

This feature is undoubtedly one of the most awaited among others, judging by the number of requests in the 'user voice' portal. The problem is that the renaming is not simply the SharePoint/OneDrive addresses change. It affects many other sensitive parts of the entire ecosystem, such as:

  • Azure Active Directory
  • Users (internal and invited/guests) in the Active Directory
  • OneDrive/SharePoint addresses and documents associated with them (especially shared documents)
  • Other Microsoft products like OneNote, PowerBI and MS Teams
  • Mobile applications
  • Deleted sites and users
  • Site backups
  • Etc., etc. The complete list of limitations associated with tenancy name renaming can be found here

The bottom line, no wonder it took Microsoft that long to come up with a consistent way for the tenancy name renaming.


Some not so hot news

It sounds weird, but Microsoft does not advertise the preview program associated with the tenancy name change. So right now, this feature is not available for wide publicity. To participate and try it out, you would need to join the 'Private Preview Program'. The form is simple, but the nomination is not guaranteed.

There's no ETA on the public availability, and the 'user voice' page is down at the moment. But, on the bright side, the respective documentation page updated today creates all reasons for cautious optimism.

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