This article is intended to share a streamlined approach for managing Office 365 services via PowerShell which are pertinent to the Microsoft UC platform, namely Exchange Online, Skype for Business Online, and Microsoft Teams. Covered are a host of one-time installation steps needed to prepare a single workstation with the requisite software as well as the individual PowerShell cmdlets repeatedly used to invoke access to each service when management processes need to be run.
Before jumping into how to connect a single PowerShell window to all of these UC-related services online it is important to understand the different services and what has changed over the years in terms of PowerShell behavior.
There are several different articles available providing guidance for connecting to the various Microsoft Office 365 Online services via PowerShell. They range from examples like an older blog post written specifically for Lync Online to new, updated guidance from Microsoft on how to access multiple services in a single console. The older approaches utilized the original requirements of manually downloading and installing several different PowerShell modules via traditional Windows Installer packages which were created for connecting to services like Lync Online and Exchange Online. There even use to be a separate download required simply to authenticate into Office 365 first using the original Organizational ID (Org ID) online authentication model.
Now though, most of the various services in Office 365 are easier to connect to via PowerShell for management purposes, but they are still not all using the same methodology and installation processes. While most are updated to use basically the same process there are a few outliers. To access Exchange Online and/or the Office 365 Security & Compliance Center a completely different approach was used than the rest of the PowerShell modules used for managing services to Azure Active Directory (Azure AD), Skype for Business Online, or Teams.
Of the more recent changes which improve upon and simplify the overall management experiences there are two primary concepts worth calling out. One is the creation of a central repository for PowerShell resources and the other is the inclusion of Modern Authentication. The newer PowerShell Gallery is now used to store and distribute various modules making installation and updates of future module version much easier. Also by leveraging Modern Authentication each of these modules utilize the same approach for providing administrative credentials for access.
Yet, as mentioned earlier not all of these services operate identically and there are even some overlapping modules used for accessing the core Office 365 service
The following core modules are needed for managing any underlying Azure AD accounts or tenant components:
- Microsoft Azure Active Directory Module for Windows PowerShell – This module contains the original set of *-Msol* cmdlets for managing Azure AD. This is the older v1 PowerShell module referred to as MSOnline.
- Azure Active Directory PowerShell for Graph – This module is the newer v2 module containing all of the *-AzureAD* cmdlets for managing Azure AD. This is the newer v2 PowerShell module referred to as AzureAD.
Microsoft currently recommends using the newer v2 module, but that does not currently include any of the cmdlets provided in the v1 module. So, it is not feasible to simply use only the newer Azure AD module when it does not also include all the older functionality. For many of the management tasks covered on this blog for services like Skype for Business it is still required to execute several MSOnline cmdlets, thus both the v1 and v2 would be leveraged. In fact, only the v1 module is really needed in most of the currently documented Skype for Business configuration and management processes as they all utilize the -Msol cmdlets, and not the newer -AzureAD cmdlets. If in the future some of that guidance is updated then make sure to leverage the appropriate modules.
Luckily both of the cmdlets above can easily be installed form the PowerShell Gallery so inclusion of both is trivial and essentially there is no harm in loading an additional module into a PowerShell session even if no cmdlets from that module are executed.
The following two modules are handled completely differently from the modules above though as they are not available via the PowerShell Gallery and must be installed through two separate manual processes.
- Skype for Business Online PowerShell – This module contains all of the *-Cs* cmdlets originally added for managing Lync Online, now Skype for Business Online, and also includes UC-related Microsoft Teams management cmdlets.
- Exchange Online PowerShell – This newer module with Modern Authentication support contains all of the cmdlets used for managing Exchange Online but these cmdlet names do not share a common naming convention for easy identification.
The following steps walk through importing or installing each individual PowerShell module and are required only once per workstation. An up-to-date Windows 10 workstation was used which contains all of the prerequisite Windows components to successfully complete the process. If any errors occur when using older versions of Windows then it may be needed to updated components like PowerShell or Windows Management Framework.
Installation of the first module will assume that no other PowerShell modules have ever been installed on the specific workstation and will prompt for the one-time installation of the NuGet Package Provider as well as ask to temporarily trust the PSGallery repository.
- Launch Windows PowerShell as an administrator.
- Enter the following cmdlet to install the MSOnline module on the local workstation directly from the PowerShell gallery.
Install-Module -Name MSOnline
- When prompted to install the prerequisite NuGet provider enter “Y” to allow the installation.
- When prompted to install the untrusted repository enter “A” to allow the installation.
- To verify successful installation of the both the requisite NuGet and PSGallery components as well as the desired MSOnline module run the following cmdlets to list the installed PowerShell Package Providers, Repositories, and Modules.
Note that the PSGallery repository listed above is currently set as Untrusted. While this is acceptable it will continue to trigger the ‘untrusted repository’ prompt seen earlier when attempting to install any other modules from the PowerShell Gallery. At this point it may be preferred to configure this as a trusted repository on the specific workstation to further streamline additional module installation. This is a completely optional step, but one that is typically recommended give the PowerShell gallery is a trusted Microsoft source.
- Use the following PSRepository cmdlets to set the PowerShell gallery to trusted and then confirm that modification.
Set-PSRepository -Name PSGallery -InstallationPolicy Trusted
- In the same administrative PowerShell window issue the following cmdlet to install the AzureAD module.
Install-Module -Name AzureAD
If the PSGallery repository was not manually trusted using the optional step above then the step above will again prompt for access to the still untrusted repository in order to download the AzureAD module. If this prompt appears enter “A” to allow it.
- Use the Get-InstalledModule cmdlet again to verify that AzureAD module has been installed.
Skype for Business
- Download and install the latest version of the Skype for Business Online Windows PowerShell Module.
- If the installation fails with an error reporting an insufficient or missing version of the Visual C++ 2017 x64 runtime then download and install the latest version of the x64 redistributable package (e.g. vc_redist.x64.exe).
- To verify successful installation open Apps & Features under the Windows System Settings and then search for ‘Skype’ to filter out of the list of installed programs to display the following results.
- Using Microsoft Edge (other browsers may not be compatible) sign-in to the Microsoft 365 Admin Center using an administrator account and then navigate to Admin Centers > Exchange to open the Exchange Admin Center in a new browser window.
- Select Hybrid from the navigation pane and then click Configure under “The Exchange Online PowerShell Module supports multi-factor authentication. Download the module to manage Exchange Online more securely.“
- Open the Microsoft.Online.CSE.PSModule.Client.application and then select Install when prompted.
- Once the module installation completes then simply close the Windows PowerShell window which was automatically opened.
At this point all four PowerShell modules have been installed on the workstation and the one-time setup is complete.
The following cmdlets can be issued individually to establish connections into each desired online service via PowerShell. Due to the way that the Exchange module functions though it is critical to use the Exchange PowerShell module to start with as that module cannot be utilized in a standard PowerShell window.
This approach leverages support for Modern Authentication throughout all four modules which does not utilize a single stored set of credentials. Each connection will prompt for authentication in a separate window.
Connecting to Online Services
- Launch the Microsoft Exchange Online PowerShell Module which was just installed on the workstation in the previous step.
Connect to Exchange Online by using the Connect-EXOPSSession cmdlet.
Sign in using an administrative account for the tenant.
Once the session has been imported a warning may appear related to potentially unapproved verbs which can be ignored.
- Connect to Azure AD using the Connect-MsolService cmdlet and enter the same administrator credentials when prompted.
- Connect to Azure AD using the Connect-AzureAD cmdlet, again entering the same credentials if prompted.
- Connect to Skype for Business Online using the following cmdlets, providing the account username when prompted in-line and the account’s password when prompted by a separate window.
$skype = New-CsOnlineSession
If all commands were successful then the resulting PowerShell window should look something like this:
Issue the following four example cmdlets to test that each of the four modules are functioning properly with access to the online services.
The following can be inserted into a .ps1 file to create a basic batch process for connecting to all four services in succession. Due to the way that Modern Authentication does not allow token sharing between the various modules then the authentication prompts will still appears between each connection attempt. Some of the Connect cmdlets support providing the User Principal Name in-line while others do not. To attempt to incorporate these newer modules into custom scripts to further automate the process take a look at these other blog articles.
Connect-EXOPSSession -UserPrincipalName “email@example.com”
$skype = New-CsOnlineSession -UserName “firstname.lastname@example.org”
Make sure to execute the script after launching the Microsoft Exchange Online PowerShell Module, as that is the only PowerShell instance which is capable of using the Connect-EXOPSSession cmdlet.