Office 365 Group adoption has increased over period of time and there has been considerable understanding about how and where to use Office 365 Groups.  However, if you are one of those organizations that have not yet started using Office 365 Groups, I would highly recommend to start them now because

  1. Shared Mailbox – Unlike distribution lists, where emails resides in individual mailbox, Office 365 Groups uses shared mailbox which provides newly joined members access to history of emails and content that predates their membership. With a Distribution Group, new members only see discussions starting from when they joined
  2. Discoverable – Office 365 Groups are discoverable for users within your Office 365 tenant. That makes it easy for people in your organization to search for a topic name and/or description and join any related groups.
  3. Self Service – Users can easily create or request for access Office 365 Groups based on their permissions. Creating Distribution Groups, as well as adding and removing members, is usually done by the organization’s Exchange administrators on behalf of the users.
  4. Collaboration – Users have access to shared calendars, document library, OneNote notebook, etc. for collaboration needs beyond email. In case of distribution list, assorted efforts are required to form a collaborative platform.

However, with vast number of distribution groups created for disparate reasons, it was difficult for organizations to drive end-user adoption for Office 365 Groups.  So Microsoft released this new functionality to transform traditional Distribution Groups to Office 365 Groups and have recently added two sets of tools to meet this request.

Exchange Admin Center 

Microsoft is rolling out  a change to the Exchange Admin Center to help remind Office 365 administrators about the advantages of Office 365 Groups. When administrators begin to create a new Distribution Group, they’ll be taken to the Office 365 Group creation page and encouraged to create a group there.

  1. Exchange Admin CenterLogin to Exchange Admin Center and navigate to recipients -> Groups.
  2. Click on “Upgrade to Office 365 Groups” icon.
  3. On the information dialog, choose Yes to confirm the upgrade.
  4. If the distribution group is eligible to be migrated, then the distribution list will be converted to an Office 365 group. See the table below for distribution list eligibility for migration.
    1. If the distribution list isn’t eligible a dialog appears with the information that the group can’t be migrated.
    2. If the distribution list is eligible, but there’s a failure during migration, the distribution list won’t be changed.

PowerShell – You can also download PowerShell scripts from here to migrate the Distribution Lists to Groups in bulk.

Distribution Lists transformation to Office 365 Groups has an eligibility criteria. The following distribution lists are not eligible for Office 365 Groups Migration.

  1. On-premise managed distribution list.
  2. Nested distribution lists. Distribution list either has child groups or is a member of another group.
  3. Moderated distribution list.
  4. Distribution lists with send on behalf settings.
  5. Distribution lists hidden from address lists.
  6. Distribution lists with member RecipientTypeDetails other than UserMailbox, SharedMailbox, TeamMailbox, MailUser.

All distribution lists with member join or depart restriction as Closed will be migrated as Private

Microsoft has not enabled any migration of Security Groups to Office 365 Groups as yet and I am sure that whenever that happens, it might end up dirty for Exchange and Active Directory Admins. Also, for customers with a hybrid infrastructure, migration will work for the Distribution Groups that are based in Office 365; but not for those based in the on-premises infrastructure. You’ll need to delete or rename the on-premises Distribution Group and create a new Office 365 Group in Office 365 using the same membership.

Office 365 Groups adoption has always faced equal criticism as appreciation. And this utility might expedite adoption and thus stream