New: Use PowerShell To Manage Licenses In Windows Store For Business / Education

powershellMany organisations are increasingly using PowerShell to automate routine tasks and schools are no different in this way.

With the recent surge in interest around Minecraft Education Edition (or M:EE for short), many schools have been asking for an easier way to manage, assign and revoke these licenses for individual students. Up until now, this could only be done via the Store itself (see here for a guide).

Happily, there is now a method to use PowerShell to achieve the rapid license management – it is still in Preview Release at the moment but could be worth checking out if you want to do some testing:

Microsoft Store For Business & Education PowerShell Module (Preview)

You can use the PowerShell module to:+

  • View items you’ve purchased – shown in Apps & software
  • Manage licenses – assigning and removing
  • Perform bulk operations with .csv files – automates license management for customers with larger numbers of licenses

It’s great to see even easier ways to manage Education focused apps from the Store through the use of PowerShell.

Easier Office365 License Management Coming to Azure AD

One of the challenges that schools can sometimes face is bulk assigning / revoking licenses in Office365 as this often requires some PowerShell skills to do this easily. In schools, this is most commonly needed in situations where students are arriving/leaving at the start/end of school years and the same for the arrival/departure of staff. Another scenario is when Microsoft roll out new features and the licenses are sometimes assigned automatically e.g. Yammer licenses applied to all students when a school may not actually want this to be the case.

Yesterday, a solution was announce as coming to public preview, using Azure AD Security Groups to easily manage these licenses.

Read the full announcement here.

From the announcement itself:

Today, we’re happy to be able to fulfill this request by announcing the public preview of a much-anticipated new capability in Azure AD: group-based license management! With this new feature you can define a “license template” and assign it to a security group in Azure AD. Azure AD will automatically assign and remove licenses as users join and leave the group.

Some key points to note:

  • Licenses can be assigned using any “security group” in Azure AD, whether synced from on-premises or created directly in Azure AD.
  • All Microsoft Online Services that require user-level licensing are supported.
  • The administrator can disable one or more service components when assigning a license to a group. This allows staged deployments of rich products like Office 365 Enterprise E5 at scale.
  • The feature is only available in the Azure portal.
  • Licenses are typically added or removed within minutes of a user joining or leaving a group.

If you have Azure AD Premium (as schools in NZ do via the Ministry of Education Schools Agreement with Microsoft) then you can even use a self-service portal where your end users can request access to a specific group to gain a license as they need it.

This is a great announcement and one that schools should keep a close eye on for easier management of O365 licenses.

Minecraft Education Edition – Buying & Managing Licenses

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Students playing Minecraft Education Edition

UPDATE 2: Nikkie Lang, from Opaheke Primary School, has published a fantastic blog that shows the process from a school’s perspective from start to finish. This is well worth reading by clicking here.

UPDATE: Since making this blog I’ve come across an authoritative step by step guide on TechNet that you can view here. I do encourage you to check that out as well. It shows how to assign licenses purchased from:

  1. Directly in the Microsoft Windows Store For Business, and
  2. Purchased as part of an EES  Agreement through Volume Licensing

Unsurprisingly, more schools are exploring Minecraft Education Edition as an easy way to managing licensing for students, and developers are already creating and sharing new Minecraft worlds for the Education Edition.

The homepage of Minecraft Education Edition is the best place to start for those new to using Minecraft for their students, but if you’re interested in how to buy / manage licenses (including assigning/reclaiming) then I’ve made a step by step guide for you below.

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  • Make sure you sign in with your school O365 account – this will need to be an administrator account:

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  • Once you’re signed in, search for “Minecraft” in the search box at the top right hand corner and then select “Minecraft Education Edition”:

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  • You will then have an option to “Buy” or “Manage” your licenses:

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  • minecraft-3-5UPDATE: Schools in NZ can purchase licences from Datacom via the MoE School agreement (this is recommended). If you’ve not purchased any licenses already (&you want to get them directly from the MBSW) then select “Buy” and you will be presented with pricing and quantities. You will need to pay via credit card to purchase these. Step through the purchase process to complete your licensing procurement. REMEMBER: you can assign/reclaim these licenses between students so you may not need to buy one license for every student in your school (see below for how to manage this process).
  • When you are ready to assign licenses to students click on the “Manage” button to the right of the “Buy” button and you can start to assign licenses. The easiest way to do this is click the “Invite People” to the bottom right of the screen and then this allows you to easily search for the names of students in your class / school and assign them  (You don’t need to type the full email address, only the name of the student). See below:

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