Active Directory & Office 365 Reporting Tool

Azure AD Joined vs Registered Devices — What’s the Difference? In the times when the working environment has made a rapid shift from working at offices to work from home, you must understand the cloud based components that define your business operations. 

All in all, Azure AD empowers your workforce to access the external as well as internal resources and applications (such as Azure Portal, Microsoft 365, etc.). As an Azure AD user, you must have a basic understanding of Azure AD Joined devices and Registered devices.

Shall we start with Azure AD Joined vs Registered Devices — What’s the Difference? (Pros and Cons)?

What Is Azure AD Joined Devices?

Firstly, Azure Active Directory Joined is a default mode. Hence, in this default setting, the users accessing the devices in an organization automatically get added to the Azure Active Directory. All it requires is an organizational account to sign in.

Since, the access to the resources is controlled with the help of the Azure AD conditional access or the controls pre-set by the administrator. In addition, an on prem single sign in access is maintained across the Azure AD Joined devices, once these are on the organizational network.

Features Of Azure AD Joined Devices

  • If using Azure AD and Intune MDM (Master Data Management), you transition to cloud based infrastructure easily.
  • In on prem domain join, it helps you control mobile devices like phones and tablets.
  • Provides your employees (working remotely or on prem or from home) with effortless joining capabilities.
  • Smoothly access organizational apps and resources from any Windows device when using Azure AD Joined.
  • Easily manage a group of users which include students, contractors, organizational employees, etc. in Azure AD instead of Active Directory.

Pros Of Azure AD Joined Devices

Password Less Authentication

When you implement Azure Active Directory in your business model, Windows Hello for Business allows password less authentication to Windows devices. This is applied across all the devices in your organization by joining all the devices to the Azure AD. 

Basically, this way Windows Hello for Business gets enabled across the whole user base (cloud as well as on prem resources). Besides, implementing this simplifies, secures the sign in process and eliminates the need to remember complex passwords.

Automatic Licensing Of Devices

Then, Windows devices always go through upgrades or license checks. This is complex and time consuming task, if it needs to be performed separately for each organizational device

Therefore, when you join these devices through Azure AD, these devices automatically get upgraded or downgraded (in case of subscription removal) through MS Cloud as Azure AD goes through license checks. As a result the management of Windows licenses through a single control panel also becomes simple.

Conditional Access Based On the Devices

Your organization’s data is critical and must be protected from any cyber attacks or leaks. This is made possible via device based conditional access implementation. For this feature, it is important that the device is either a hybrid Azure AD Joined device or a compliant device. Altogether, this co management ensures that the configuration of the devices is intact.

  • The device needs to be marked as compliant by using Intune for evaluating conditional access for Azure AD Joined devices.
  • For Hybrid AAD Joined devices, the state of the device itself evaluates the conditional access.

Cons Of Azure AD Joined Devices

Limited Relevance

The implementation of Azure AD Joined is mostly relevant to enterprises that adopt cloud based infrastructure paradigms. This is ideal for small or mid sized businesses that do not intend to adopt on prem infrastructure.

Service Limitations

Certainly, with Azure Active Directory, to which you easily join using Azure AD Join, is not a complete enterprise directory service, if we actually look into it. Consequently, Azure AD majorly provides identity management capabilities which render its purpose and functionality limited to SaaS businesses.

Improve your Active Directory Security & Azure AD

Try us out for Free, Access to all features. – 200+ AD Report templates Available. Easily customise your own AD reports.

What Is Azure AD Registered Devices?

On the other hand, Azure AD Registered devices is any personal or external devices (which have an Azure AD account). These registered devices are signed in to via a local account such as Microsoft account that is either on Windows 10 or a newer device.

The access to these resources is kept under check by using strict authentication methods or conditional access implementation. You must note that in the Azure AD Registration method, the device is registered with Azure AD, but this does not mean that it is joined also with your organizational domain.

Features Of Azure AD Registered Devices

  • Allows you to use the Azure AD refresh token, which helps in eliminating the requirement of entering the credentials every time you sign in.
  • Listing of the devices that are registered is always through Bitlocker recovery keys (provided these are enabled) and an MS registered account.
  • The Enterprise State Roaming feature comes enabled with Azure AD Registration.
  • Manage cloud based devices by using an MDM provider such as Intune.
  • Azure AD Registration also works on non Windows devices.

Pros Of Azure AD Registered Devices

Beneficial for Users and Organizations

As well, the users benefit from Azure AD registered devices during the sign in process. Equally, it offers a single sign on to the cloud resources and is used on various devices running on Windows 10, iOS, Android, and Mac OS.

As far as the organizational benefits are concerned, you validate the conditional access policies and the compliance once you enroll in the Endpoint manager. Other controls that follow such as encryption, minimum password complexity, etc. are easily implemented on the device.

Personal Device and Data Safety

Since Azure AD Registration enables single sign on to the devices belonging to the users in an organization, the users bring their personal devices such as laptops, tablets, etc. in Azure AD. This lets you achieve single sign on thereby letting you control your device identity as well.

No Account Limitations

One of the ideal features when using this method is that you don’t need to have an organizational account to be able to sign in to the device. The device is owned by the individual. The provision for sign in is done through one of these — Microsoft Authenticator App, Company Portal, or preset patterns. Also, the registered users always have full access to the account and resources.

Cons Of Azure AD Registered Devices

Limitations on The Number of Devices

Intune and Azure have their respective device limitations regarding the number of devices you enrol. Intune sets its limitation to 15, which is the maximum number of devices allowed. And Azure sets it to 5.

Azure AD Joined vs Registered Devices — What's the Difference?


Azure AD Joined Devices

Domain is already registered with the Azure Active Directory. All you need to do is to sign in to the Azure AD portal followed by connecting your domain to it.

Azure AD Registered Devices

Your account is created in the Azure Active Directory portal. You then have to register your domain with Azure AD.


Azure AD Joined

These users only have access to the resources that are associated with their domain. If this has been implemented in an organization, you cannot access the on prem corporate resources without network access.

Azure AD Registered

The registered users access all the resources offered by Azure AD. They bring their personal devices and access resources via a single sign on.

User Identity Management

Azure AD Joined

Since users use the organizational devices which are joined to the Azure AD portal, they manage their user identity and accessibility only through the Azure AD management portal.

Azure AD Registered

The Azure AD Registration allows personal device registration. Therefore, the access rights and user identity are managed by the users in the Azure AD Portal.

User Capabilities

Azure AD Joined

If you are a Joined user, you create services and join devices in your own domain. Also manage your subscriptions in the Azure AD management portal.

Azure AD Registered

If you are a registered user in Azure AD, create applications as well as services in the Azure AD portal. Also join devices in the Azure AD tenant. In addition to this, you are also at liberty to manage your subscriptions directly in the Azure AD portal.

Use Case

Azure AD Joined

The Azure AD Joined method is ideal for devices that are owned and managed by corporate enterprises. Accessibility remains limited to features of cloud apps only such as OAuth, and SAML authentication.

Azure AD Registered

Azure AD Registered is the method that is ideal for devices that are owned by an individual or are corporation enabled. Applications apart from cloud apps are also installed.

Authentication Criteria

Azure AD Joined

Authentication in Azure AD Joined (which is possible only through AAD) is done by using a corporate id or credentials which exist in the Azure AD.

Azure AD Registered

In this case, the authentication is done by using a local id or personal cloud id. When authenticating to corporate resources, then the user id of AAD is used.

Thank you for reading Azure AD Joined vs Registered Devices — What’s the Difference? We shall conclude the article. 

Azure AD Joined vs Registered Devices — What's the Difference? (Conclusion)

Both Azure AD Joined and Azure AD Registered devices offer a fair share of advantages. But with a wider accessibility capacity, the Azure AD Registered method seems to be a better option than the former. The method you choose depends largely on your organizational requirements.


Try InfraSOS for FREE

Invite your team and explore InfraSOS features for free

Anmol Nigam

Anmol Nigam

I write bespoke content for SaaS entrepreneurs and brands to help them scale organically.

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *