How to Fix the Microsoft MyApps Portal

In my last blog, I explained what the Microsoft MyApps Portal (aka the “access panel“) was and listed some end user and IT benefits. In this blog, I will explain what Microsoft must do to drive adoption among end users and not just IT departments. In many organizations, especially small and medium businesses, it is extremely difficult or impossible to mandate the use of new technology. End users have to see some benefit in order for meaningful adoption to take place. The MyApps portal has some very beneficial business\IT benefits, especially in terms of security, but it completely falls down when trying to “sell” the portal to end users. Here are the major issues\enhancements that I think are needed in order to make the MyApps Portal something end users will be asking for:

  • Allow applications to be organized into folders and allow custom icon sorting/positioning/icon sizing
  • Allow end users to add ANY web application they want, not just apps in the catalog
  • Allow the catalog of apps to be browsed by end users
  • Enable apps to have multiple accounts
  • Allow admins to remove default Microsoft Apps
  • Enable admins to control how often the MyApps page is refreshed
  • Allow nested security groups

Icon Customization

This is perhaps the most important modification that would help sell the MyApps portal to end users. Almost universally during a recent pilot, this was the biggest complaint. I heard things like “the icons are too big”, or “why can’t I move frequently used apps to the top”? I would like to see the ability to create Tabs or folders, sorting options other than alphabetical, and options to either remove or resize icons.

Adding New Applications

Why not allow ANY application to be added, even if it is just a link (no SSO or password fill)? If we want people to use the MyApps portal instead of their bookmarks or other apps like LastPass. To compete with LastPass, why not allow ANY web app to store usernames and passwords, not just the ones IT sets up? I understand that the MyApps portal is a “business” tool, but it will not be adopted if other freely available solutions are easier to use and less restrictive.

Why Can’t End Users Browse the App Catalog?

All that is available is a search box. If people cannot add any web app they want, at least let them browse the catalog vs. blindly searching!

Enable Apps to Support Multiple Accounts

Many people log in to apps with multiple sets of credentials. There has to be a way to solve this in the MyApps portal. I know I have many sets of credentials for some sites and LastPass handles this elegantly.

Allow Admins to Remove Default Microsoft Apps

I should not have to remove a license for Yammer, for example, to prevent it from displaying on the MyApps portal. There are so many Microsoft apps that come with Enterprise editions of Office 365 nowadays. Many businesses don’t necessarily want to prevent their use, but also don’t want to clutter up the MyApps portal with seldom used applications that appear by default.

Enable Refresh Options on the MyApps Page

I keep the apps portal open all day in a tab. After a period of time, accessing apps errors out and the apps portal tab refreshes itself. After that, accessing apps works fine again. There should be some way for admins to control an automatic refresh of the portal so these errors don’t occur. Even an automatic 60-second refresh would be fine.

Allow Nested Security Groups

When admins are granting access to published applications, rights either have to be set up for each individual or via a group. This could be a new Azure AD group or a synced on-premises Active Directory group. The problem is that you cannot add groups that have other groups nested inside them as members. This seems like it should be an easy fix.

Final Thoughts

Azure Active Directory and the MyApps Portal, in particular, have a lot of potential. Microsoft is late to the game when compared with competitors such as Okta, Ping Identity, and OneLogin. Since many companies who use Office 365 and have a local Active Directory already sync to Azure AD, it makes a lot of sense to take a look at the premium features available, the MyApps Portal/Access Panel included. I understand that the MyApps portal was initially designed with IT control in mind, but until some of the issues I outlined are fixed, it will be hard to sell the portal to business decision makers and nearly impossible to sell to end users. And if end users don’t want to use it, what is the point?

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