Device groups and categories in Microsoft 365 Business Premium

Microsoft 365 Business Premium includes endpoint protection through Microsoft Defender for Business and Microsoft Intune. Device protection policies are applied to devices through certain collections that are called device groups. In Intune, devices are grouped into device categories as a different way of organizing them.

This article includes the following sections:

Working with device groups

A device group is a collection of devices that are grouped together because of certain specified criteria, such as the operating system version. Devices that meet the criteria are included in that device group, unless you exclude them.

With Microsoft 365 Business Premium, you have default device groups that you can use. The default device groups include all the devices that are onboarded to Defender for Business. However, you can also create new device groups to assign device protection policies with specific settings to certain devices.

All device groups, including your default device groups and any custom device groups that you define, are stored in Azure Active Directory (Azure AD).

Create a device group in the Microsoft 365 Defender portal

You can create a new device group while you are in the process of creating or editing a device protection policy.

  1. Go to the Microsoft 365 Defender portal and sign in.

  2. In the navigation pane, choose Device configuration.

  3. Take one of the following actions:

    1. Select an existing policy, and then choose Edit.

    2. Choose + Add to create a new policy.


    To get help creating or editing a policy, see View or edit policies in Microsoft Defender for Business.

  4. On the General information step, review the information, edit if necessary, and then choose Next.

  5. Choose Create new group.

  6. Specify a name and description for the device group, and then choose Next.

  7. Select the devices to include in the group, and then choose Create group.

  8. On the Device groups step, review the list of device groups for the policy. If needed, remove a group from the list. Then choose Next.

  9. On the Configuration settings page, review and edit settings as needed, and then choose Next. For more information about these settings, see Understand next-generation configuration settings in Microsoft Defender for Business.

  10. On the Review your policy step, review all the settings, make any needed edits, and then choose Create policy or Update policy.

Create a device category in Intune

Create device categories in Intune from which users must choose when they enroll a device.

  1. Sign in to the Microsoft Intune admin center.

  2. Choose Devices > Device categories > Create device category to add a new category.

  3. On the Create device category pane, enter a name for the new category, and an optional description.

  4. When you're done, select Create. You can see the new category in the list.

Use the device category name when you create the Azure Active Directory (Azure AD) security groups. When users enroll their devices, they're presented with a list of the categories you configured in Intune. After they choose a category and finish enrollment, their device is added to the Active Directory security group that is associated with it.

Create dynamic device groups in Azure Active Directory

You can also enter the Azure Active Directory (Azure AD) portal ( from the Microsoft 365 admin center. In the Microsoft 365 admin center (, choose All admin centers, and then choose Azure Active Directory.

In the Azure AD portal, you can create dynamic groups based on the device category and device category name. Use dynamic group rules to automatically add and remove devices. If a device's attributes change, the system looks at your dynamic group rules for the directory to see if the device meets the rule requirements (is added) or no longer meets the rules requirements (is removed).

You can create a dynamic group for either devices or users, but not for both. You also can't create a device group based on the device owners' attributes. Device membership rules can only reference device attributions.

How categories are used when enrolling devices

After categories and device groups are established, people who have iOS and Android devices can enroll their devices in Intune. When they enroll their devices, they'll choose a category from the list of categories that were configured. People who have Windows devices can use either the Company Portal website or the Company Portal app to select a category.

  1. After enrolling the device go to the company portal and choose My Devices.

  2. Select the enrolled device from the list, and then select a category.

After choosing a category, the device is automatically added to the corresponding group. If a device is already enrolled before you configure categories, the user sees a notification about the device on the Company Portal website. This lets the user know to select a category the next time they access the Company Portal app on iOS/iPadOS or Android.


  • You can edit a device category in the Azure portal, but you must manually update any Azure AD security groups that reference this category.
  • If you delete a category, devices assigned to it display the category name Unassigned.

View the categories of devices that you manage

  1. Sign in to the Microsoft Intune admin center, choose Devices > All devices.

  2. In the list of devices, examine the Device category column.

  3. If the Device category column isn't shown, select Columns > Category > Apply.

Change the category of a device

  1. Sign in to the Microsoft Intune admin center, choose Devices > All devices.

  2. Select the category you want from the list, to see its properties.

Next steps

Now that you've completed your primary missions, take time to set up your response teams and maintain your environment.