Microsoft makes Azure Active Directory Basic generally available

Microsoft makes new 'basic' version of Active Directory in the cloud generally available.

Microsoft is making available to its volume licensing customers, as of September 15, a second paid version of Azure Active Directory.

Azure Active Directory Basic, the newest version, sits between Azure Active Directory Free and Azure Active Directory Premium. The Basic flavor of the cloud-based version of Microsoft's Active Directory directory service provides the same functionality as the free version.

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Administrators can manage user accounts, synchronize with on-premises directories, and get single sign-on across Azure, Office 365 and many Microsoft and third-party cloud applications, including Salesforce, Google Apps, Box and DropBox. Admins also get company branding with the Basic version, allowing the addition of company logo and color schemes to the sign-in and access-panel pages.

The Basic tier also provides support for "task workers with cloud-first needs," meaning group-based access management, self-service password reset for cloud applications, a customizable environment for launching enterprise and cloud apps and a service level agreement of 99.9 percent uptime. The Premium version adds even more enterprise-level identity-management functionality.

The Basic version of Azure Active Directory costs $1 per user per month (with standard volume licensing discounts available) with access to up to 10 apps per user. The Premium version, in standalone form, costs $4 per user per month. Currently, Microsoft is offering a promotion on its Enterprise Mobility Suite -- a bundle of Azure Acctive Directory Premium, Rights Management Services and Intune device management -- for $4 as well.

Microsoft also announced general availability this week of Azure Active Directory sync. AAD sync is for connecting more easily Windows Server Active Directory to Azure Active Directory, and is Microsoft's self-described "one sync to rule them all."