Using Microsoft Azure I have a default Active Directory domain (apparently) and I can create VMs. To my surprise, such VMs are not joined to the AD domain automatically and domain users can't log into it.

Is it possible to join these Azure VMs to the Azure Default AD? How or why not?


5 Answers 5


Check out the (Still in preview) Azure Active Directory Domain Services. with this feature you will be able to join an Azure VM to your Azure AD Domain. you will also be able to use GPOs for computer and users.

  • In 2020 this should be the accepted answer.
    – Emiswelt
    Apr 29, 2020 at 12:42

Azure AD isn't your "regular" AD. You're not able to join computers to it. What you CAN do, is the following: Set up your own domain controllers (these can also run on Azure), and use Azure Dirsync (which is a service you install on a VM) to sync user objects between your "regular" AD and Azure AD. That way, you have a normal AD forest you can use for computer joins and such, but also enjoy the benefits of being able to do single-sign on to Azure websites, Office365 etc using the replicated accounts in Azure AD. There is a very good document describing this sort of architecture (although it's made for Office365 it goes for Azure as well, since the Azure AD instance is the same), which can be found here. Well worth the read: Deploying Office 365 Single Sign-On using Windows Azure

  • 1
    Thanks. So in order to have a real Active Directory I need a VM that I dedicate to be domain controller and have it running all the time. That's lame! Aug 22, 2013 at 0:04
  • 2
    Correct. Think of Azure AD as a membership db and authentication system, not a full-blown AD. And the sync stuff makes it pretty cool, actually.
    – Trondh
    Aug 22, 2013 at 9:47
  • 4
    This may have changed a bit with Azure AD Domain Services (currently in preview) azure.microsoft.com/en-us/documentation/services/…
    – Rory
    Oct 22, 2015 at 11:25
  • 1
    @MrHinsh Windows 10 Pro or Enterprise
    – Shai
    Apr 30, 2017 at 11:19
  • 1
    This answer is out of date - the solution is to use Azure AD DS
    – Emiswelt
    Apr 29, 2020 at 12:42

Only Windows 10 OS/VM can be now join directly to Azure AD.

2 usefull links on this subject






I was able to do this with Azure VMs (Windows Server 2012 R2).

It requires Azure AD Domain Services. If you're setting group-based permissions (e.g. for folder or RDP access) you need to use a security group (distribution lists and O365 groups, including built-in groups, will not work).

You may need to configure the DNS servers if they're not set up correctly.

You need to have a local VM admin-level account and an Azure AD admin-level account.

You just change the domain under my computer as you would when joining it to a regular domain (you will need to enter the Azure AD admin credentials).

Note: Don't forget that you also need to add RDP access for the users/groups before they will be able to RDP into the VM with their Azure Accounts.

You don't need a separate domain controller or DirSync.


Keep in mind that by promoting one of the servers to a domain controller, you can then have it sync with Azure AD for the users and groups. When we talk about Windows 10 joining the Azure AD you are only joining to see the list of applications available and authentication for the user. This is not the same as joining a typical on-premises active directory domain. Suggestion is to build two AD controllers in Azure VMs and then have them sync with Azure AD. Have any servers or computers created join the same virtual network that the domain controllers are a part of. Here is a step by step guide for setting up a lab environment around the same idea: http://www.virtuallycloud9.com/index.php/2015/02/it-camp-azure-labs-lab-1-building-the-foundation-step-by-step/

  • Unfortunately, sync is only one way when you have both AD servers and O365. It will only sync from the AD server to O365, so if someone wants to, say, add new accounts from O365 then these won't actually be added to the AD server. For this ticket, they wanted the O365 accounts to be the "source of truth".
    – taraz
    Apr 29, 2020 at 18:09

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