Azure AD SSO in a non-ADFS environment – Windows 10

Having made the migration from onsite Exchange and SharePoint to Office 365 in early 2015 one of the key issues that users had was the lack of single sign on facilities to applications based in the cloud. You might ask why didn’t you use ADFS for your implementation, well I like many SME systems admins had made a conscious decision to run with DirSync as this lowered the overall foot print of our hybrid set up, I also liked the idea that even in the event of a complete loss of internal resources the Office 365 cloud would still allow employees to authenticate.

In my case the decision was concreted only after speaking with Microsoft Office 365 speakers and product development engineers, as their view was unless you have a specific reason for using ADFS then the DirSync product road map with the migration to Azure AD Connect would be more than sufficient for my needs. I convinced my manager and the migration went ahead..

So to fast forward to today and with the improvements in the ability to sync details to and from Azure Active Directory without an ADFS environment I am going to run through one of the newer authentication features of Windows 10, this being Azure AD SSO on domain joined devices.

Single Sign On without ADFS.. What Is This Black Magic???

The ability to open cloud based resources which integrate with Azure Active Directory without having to sign on again has been the domain of ADFS up until this point. With the latest release of Azure AD Connect and Windows 10 1511 on-wards however we can now achieve a similar experience.

The system works by issuing authentication tokens when registering the physical device of the user. Further in depth technical info is available on TechNet –

So How Do I Implement It?

The implementation process is very straight forward;

  1. Enable users to join devices to Azure AD

    Log onto the Azure Admin Portal, open your tenant and click on the Configure tab. Scroll down to the Devices section and apply either a selected or all device configuration depending on your security requirements. Example screenshots below;

  2. Download and install the latest version of Azure AD Connect
    azureaddownload if you are still using DirSync or Azure AD Sync, you should migrate to Azure AD Connect before the 13th of April 2017 as support will be deprecated at that point. The upgrade process from these old legacy tools is very straight forward during the setup wizard.

  3. Ensure your Windows 10 clients are compatible

    Windows 10 build 1511 (November 2015) onward support Azure AD SSO device join via group policy. If you are running the RTM build 10240, you will need to upgrade first.To check this either open a command prompt and read the Windows version on the second line or open PowerShell and type;(Get-WmiObject win32_operatingsystem).version


    For those of you using SCCM, I suggest you create a collection based on the version of Windows 10 for management purposes. The following query will add clients running build 1607 to your collection;select SMS_R_SYSTEM.ResourceID,SMS_R_SYSTEM.ResourceType,SMS_R_SYSTEM.Name,SMS_R_SYSTEM.SMSUniqueIdentifier,SMS_R_SYSTEM.ResourceDomainORWorkgroup,SMS_R_SYSTEM.Client from SMS_R_System inner join SMS_G_System_OPERATING_SYSTEM on SMS_G_System_OPERATING_SYSTEM.ResourceID = SMS_R_System.ResourceId where SMS_G_System_OPERATING_SYSTEM.BuildNumber = “14393”

  4. Update Your Central Store – Group Policy Administrative Templates

    In order to enable this feature you will need to ensure that your group policy administrative templates are up to date. The latest Windows 10 templates can be downloaded from the following link –

  5. Enable Device Sync – Azure AD Connect

    Now we have to enable device synchronization with Azure AD. There are two ways to achieve this, you can either run the Azure AD Connect wizard or edit the connectors yourself. In the below example I am going to go with the later;

    • On your Azure AD Connect server, open the Synchronization Service Managersyncscreen1
      Right-click on the Connectors button and right click on the Active Directory Domain Services and to to Properties
    • Configure Directory Partitions

      Click on Configure Directory Partitions and then click on the Containers button.


      When prompted enter an account with sufficient rights to Active Directory.

    • Select Computer OU to Sync

      Browse through your Active Directory and select the OU’s which contain computer accounts you wish to synchronize to Azure AD for the purpose of using Azure SSO.

    • Force Full Synchronization

      Right click on your Active Directory Domain Services connector and click on Run.


      On this screen click on the Full Import button. Once this job has completed do the same for the Windows Azure Active Directory connector.

  6. Configure GPO Settings

    Open Group Policy Management Editor and either create a new GPO or modify an existing one which applies settings to computers within the OU’s you have set to sync.
    Open the Computer Settings\Policies\Administrative Templates\Windows Components\Device Registration folderClick on the Register Domain Joined Computers As Devices setting and click Enable.

  7. Have Patience…

    There will obviously be delay between devices refreshing their GPO policies, Azure AD Sync times and devices registering.

  8. Verifying Device Sync Status

    Download the Microsoft Azure Active Directory Module for Windows PowerShell from the following link : a Azure AD Module PS window and connect to your Azure tenant environment by typing;


    Once connected type the following to display a full list of registered devices and their current state;
    Get-MsolDevice -All | FT DisplayName, DeviceOS*, DeviceTrust*

    You can also run the following PS command to get a count of machines registered and compare this to your SCCM collection;

    (Get-MsolDevice -All).Count

Its Done..

Once your devices are successfully registered, your users should be automatically signed into their Azure AD cloud services. Now you have another little win for making their lives that bit easier without going to the extent of implementing a full ADFS environment.

Update – 29/9/2016

With the latest 16.0.7341.2035 build of Office 2016, SSO is now fully functional when opening Outlook. The below screen is now presented to the user rather than the usual Add Account wizard which prompts you for your password at the end. Now all the user has to do is click Connect and the settings download & sign in happens in the background in the initial launch;


Maurice Daly

Maurice has been working in the IT industry for the past 20 years and currently working in the role of Senior Cloud Architect with CloudWay. With a focus on OS deployment through SCCM/MDT, group policies, active directory, virtualisation and office 365, Maurice has been a Windows Server MCSE since 2008 and was awarded Enterprise Mobility MVP in March 2017. Most recently his focus has been on automation of deployment tasks, creating and sharing PowerShell scripts and other content to help others streamline their deployment processes.



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