Tips on managing Office 365 demo environments

The estimated reading time for this post is 6 minutes

Some five years ago now, I blogged about how to login to multiple Office 365 identities or accounts at the same time using Chrome Profiles. With the fantastic new version of Edge (now built on Chromium), you can use different profiles just the same, and I share how browser profiles are such an import part of my workflow in this article.

Screenshot of Edge and the profiles I used in the profiles list.

Edge (Chromium)

You can download Microsoft Edge based on the Chromium engine from the Microsoft Edge Insider website. Keep an eye out for all the great stuff that is coming soon such as Internet Explorer mode, a Privacy Dashboard and much more.

What do we call the new version? Microsoft Edge. But for those having technical conversations or writing any guidance or documentation the difference will need to have a term to refer to the two very different versions. On Microsoft Docs, the documentation seems to refer to the original version as Edge (EdgeHTML) and the new version Edge (Chromium).

Oh, and with Edge (Chromium) not only am I now able to manage my bookmarks in more than a frustratingly annoying pop-out pane, but I can also consolidate them between the various browsers I have used!

Microsoft Demos

Here at Microsoft, we use the Microsoft Demo Program to provision demo Office 365 environments. This service is available to Microsoft employees and Microsoft Partners.

Both can create up to six 90-day tenants, and Microsoft employees can create three additional 1-year tenants. The 90-day tenants sometimes expire sooner than 90-days, this is because they are pre-provisioned and sit in stockpiles ready for use for up to 45 days before the tenant is deleted and the stockpiles are automatically refreshed. Two types of virtual machines can be created. A standalone VM which isn’t associated with a tenant and a tenant-joined VM which gets domain-joined to a specified tenant. I don’t tend to find myself using VMs by Microsoft Demos as I tend to do this myself in my Azure subscription.

Screenshot of my Office 365 environments from Microsoft Demo
My environments are all numbered and match my Edge profiles.

Tips on managing your Microsoft Demo environments

Firstly and most importantly I know it seems a hassle but demonstrate your environment with MFA enabled. It’s a piece of cake to enable MFA. We are and should already use it for our sign-ins, so in real terms, nothing is lost by enabling it and your environment is immediately securer as a result. Security absolutely should be at the forefront of any demonstration alongside our kick-ass product and feature stack.

Tip: You can set a personal PIN in your account profile when signed-in to Microsoft Demos. This is used in combination with another string to form a password.

Add reminders into your calendar a few weeks ahead of the expiry of your environment. This gives you a chance to escalate a renewal or allow you to tear down anything you have been working on that you might want to save and avoids unnecessary stress when you realise you need an expir(ing/ed) environment!


In each of my browser profiles, I include a standard set of Office 365 links. These are mainly to speed up my workflow, but it’s great to see all the shiny Office 365 icons on the bookmark bar too! Additionally, I also use folders with links to anything I am building or working on so I can quickly load them all as tabs (right click on the folder > open all on the folder). I toggle the visibility of the bookmark bar when presenting to customers and creating screenshots.

Screenshot of useful bookmarks added to the bookmarks bar in Edge.
Useful bookmarks added to the bookmarks bar in Edge.

Browser settings

I tend to make all my profiles use the same configuration mainly for consistency, but some also increase productivity.

  • Home button – always enable the home button to speed up browsing.
  • I always add the English (United Kingdom) language for localised spelling.
  • Always show the bookmark bar (can quickly toggle it with Ctrl + B when taking screenshots or presenting to customers as needed).
  • Set the browser to continue where you left off on start-up.


In the non-chromium version of Edge (EdgeHTML) I was dependant on a few browser extensions which up until last week were prohibiting me from solely using Edge (Chromium) as they weren’t available. You can now allow extensions from other stores which has allowed me to install them and to ditch my other browsers altogether.

  • Grammarly – I know where my weaknesses are and have invested in Grammarly premium for a number a year or so. Grammarly helps me understand the mistakes in my writing and helps improve my spelling and grammar throughout my day.
  • 1Password * – my password manager tool of choice.
  • AdBlock – blocks ads from all over the web.
  • Save to Pocket – useful for saving research for reading later. I use Pocket to my read it later tool of choice. I often read from my Pocket list when travelling and have time set aside each week to get on top of my reading list.
  • OneNote web clipper * similar to above but rather than reading the article later I clip it to my OneNote notebook for reference.

Readme file

Here is my little bonus tip! I add a secret markdown readme file hosted in Gist provided by GitHub for each of my environments. The primary use for this is to provide a summary of the environment, the key personas like the admin account (note I don’t store passwords in this file) and to provide a basic changelog as you can easily forget significant changes in these environments that then catch you out later.

I decided to use a secret Gist rather than a OneNote page as the readme file is only ever used for read-access. Therefore, a secret Gist URL is just perfect for this and quick too! I also add this to the bookmark bar, so I quickly know what environment and profile I’m using. I then pin this tab, so it is always discretely open for quickly referencing.

Screenshot of readme file about my demo environment hosted in Gist
Example readme markdown file hosted as a secret Gist in Git Hub.

Other useful tools for demos

Here are some other tools I use alongside these labs to help me with my task and demonstrations.

  • Clipboard manager – ClipX is a lightweight tool which I’ve used for years but now opt for Phrase Express for its additional Macro functionality.
  • Collection of sample files – basic folder comprising of sample files and Office documents. I also have a piece of sample malware file (EICAR test file) useful for demonstrating security capabilities in Office 365 such as Exchange Online Protection (EOP).
  • ZoomIT – a really useful tool to magnify parts of the screen when presenting but also useful for time management if you have an exercise or break.
  • Multiple desktops in Windows 10 – they’re great for keeping related apps and content together, for focus and for demonstrations where you can have various personas in each desktop and use a multi-finger swipe on the trackpad to slide between each desktop.
  • FastStone Capture – my screenshot tool of choice, it has advanced capture capabilities such as an object within a window such as a toolbar and can capture a long page with scrolling capture. It also has a simple yet powerful editor and can blur sections and add incremental annotations.
  • AirServer – this is an excellent tool for mirroring the display of mobile devices on your Windows desktop. The tool supports mirroring devices that use Airplay, Miracast and Google Cast.

One thing that doesn’t appear to be possible is that you can’t create a shortcut directly to a given profile. When launching Edge from a shortcut it will use the last profile Edge used. I’d rather it open a specific profile such as my default personal profile rather than the mythical demo personas I mostly use profiles for.

I hope you find the tips and tricks in this article useful.






One response to “Tips on managing Office 365 demo environments”

  1. […] tasks and run common commands against Microsoft Teams in Office 365 for example. I also have a markdown file for each of my demo environments where I hold information about different personas I have created, areas where I have built out […]