Microsoft is unifying Microsoft 365 apps under the cloud.microsoft domain
Microsoft has created or acquired a lot of products in the past ten years, and many of these products, apps or services, use their one domain names or subdomains. The company notes that this "fragmentation has created increasing challenges for end user navigation, administrative simplicity, and the development of cross-app experiences".
To address the fragmentation, Microsoft decided to unify the experience for end users and system administrators alike. User-facing Microsoft 365 apps and services that require user authentication will be moved to a single domain: cloud.microsoft.
Note that the domain name is cloud.microsoft, and not cloud.microsoft.com. Services will become available under the new domain. To give an example. Outlook may be accessed by loading outlook.cloud.microsoft in the web browser, and the same is true for OneDrive, Teams, or Loop. Please note that the services are not yet available under the new Microsoft domain.
Microsoft has exclusive access to the .microsoft top level domain. This, Microsoft says, enhances the "security, trustworthiness, and integrity of an organization's web offerings". It enables "enhanced security protocols and governance controls" and brings the value of these to apps as well. It is easier for users to verify that the site in question is legitimate, as they only have to verify that they are on a .microsoft domain.
Domain spoofing, for example, would require a direct attack against Microsoft's infrastructure, as it is the "registry operator and sole registrant".
Microsoft explains that a single, unified domain name offers several advantages for its customers. The main improvement for end users is that it will reduce the number of authentication prompts significantly. It will also reduce the number of redirects and delays when switching from one app to another, according to Microsoft.
System administrators benefit from a decrease in complexity, especially in regards to allow-lists and security in general.
Microsoft plans to deploy "net-new services" on the cloud.microsoft domain initially. Existing workloads will be transitioned over time to the new domain. The domain has already been added to the official list of Office 365 URLs and IP address ranges, which administrators may use to configure these services in their environments.
End users will be redirected automatically once services are switched to their new home at the cloud.microsoft website. Microsoft has yet to reveal a schedule for the moving of existing apps and services to the new domain.
The company has plans to move other services to the domain as well in the future, but current plans are limited to Microsoft 365.
The use of an exclusive domain, .microsoft in this case, could help improve security and reduce complexity for administrators. It remains to be seen how fast Microsoft is going to transition existing services to the cloud.microsoft domain.
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