In this post I have distilled 3 hours of frustration into a short guide to go from zero access to a 90-day Developer trial, perfect for those starting free Power Apps training on learn.microsoft.com.
Scenario: You are a student looking to learn Power Platform before entering the job market, you are unemployed and attempting to re-skill during your job search, you are self-employed or simply employed by a company that is not on the Microsoft ecosystem. To sign up for a Power Platform trial, Microsoft has blocked school accounts and personal email accounts, frustrating many knowledge seekers and befuddling me as an evangelist of the platform. Therefore, if you fall into any of the above categories you likely have been prevented from getting your hands on the software.
Back Story: It took me over 3 hours to figure out how to get a free trial environment going for purposes of learning about the Power Platform from the perspective of a complete novice. This should be embarrassing to the point of being shameful for Microsoft, preventing learners and would be fans from seeing what the product can do. It is classic Microsoft, the clear lack of effort the go through the steps a potential user might face when curious enough about the program to sign up. Sure, they have the feature, but you’ll have to dig through 10 blog posts and 18 steps to reach it.
1) Set up a Microsoft 365 Developer account, this is a baseline account for all of Microsoft products, not specifically for the Power Platform yet. The idea here is you want to register as a serious user who is going to actually test out and learn the platform. Developer Program | Microsoft 365 Dev Center
2) Next, the goal is to get a free, renewable 90-day Microsoft 365 E5 developer subscription pre-provisioned with Microsoft 365 apps. You will see a link saying “Set up E5 subscription” to claim your sandbox space. I repeatedly clicked this link and got an error message saying provisioning is currently disabled due to a technical issue. Dozens of users have posted the same issue with murky resolutions saying things like signing up for marketing emails was the trick to bypass the error. Unable to Setup Microsoft 365 Developer Program : E5 Subscription – Microsoft Q&A
3) I honestly gave up at this point and wrote on the Power Platform Community and went to sleep.
How can unemployed learn the Power Platform? – Power Platform Community (microsoft.com)
4) The next day, I got an email congratulating me on successfully joining the M365 Developer Program and encouraging me to set up my sandbox environment for testing. Thrilling, but why not inform users there will be a delay and to monitor their email? Why is there a delay at all? Why the error message? We will likely never know.
5) I returned to the Developer portal and sure enough was able to set up a sandbox this time. When I made it through, I had been provided an onmicrosoft.com email address. This is the key needed to get a Power Platform trial.
6) At this point we have a Dev account, a trial environment, and an email address that will work. Go to the Power Apps website and click on start free trial using the onmicrosoft.com email address. https://powerapps.microsoft.com/
7) From here, the user interface gets much more intuitive, you simply enter some identifying information and eventually get taken to a blank Power Platform home screen where you can begin to learn.
Power Platform on Microsoft Learn | Microsoft Learn
I recommend choosing a few learning paths and create in this environment along the way. Pay attention to the expiration dates as people have complained of missing the renewal window and being locked out – I’d recommend putting this on your calendar immediately to avoid this fate. The best way to a career path in the Power Platform community is Passing the PL-200: Microsoft Power Platform Functional Consultant Exam
Exam PL-200: Microsoft Power Platform Functional Consultant – Certifications | Microsoft Learn