Office 365 ProPlus - Responses to Frequently Asked Questions

Office 365 ProPlus is a hot topic that I often discuss with my large enterprise customers. This post will summarize responses to some of the frequently asked questions that I receive. Here are the questions that I will be answering:

  • Why should my company use/purchase Office 365 ProPlus?
  • How do I deploy Office 365 ProPlus?
  • How can I manage updates to Office 365 ProPlus?
  • How is Office 365 ProPlus license activation handled?
  • How do I gain insights into my organization’s usage of add-ins, macros, and other Office applications?
  • What is the new Office application model and store?
  • How do I train my end users?
  • How do IT professionals get training?

You can also read how TE Connectivity and Henkel each rapidly deployed Office 365 ProPlus to 40,000 users.

Do you have other Office 365 ProPlus questions or topics that you would like to discuss? Mention me in your post here in the Office 365 ProPlus group in the Office 365 Yammer network.

Why should my company use/purchase Office 365 ProPlus?

There are many reasons why my enterprise customers choose to purchase Office 365 ProPlus. These include:

  • Each licensed user can use Office 365 ProPlus on up to 5 PC or Mac devices.
  • Office 365 ProPlus can be installed and used side by side with older versions of Office, such as Office 2010, 2007, or 2003.
  • Each licensed user can also use Office on 5 Windows tablets or iPads and 5 phones. Office for Android tablets is currently available in preview as well.
  • With Microsoft’s “cloud first, mobile first” strategy, Office 365 ProPlus customers get updates and new releases before other customers. 2 recent examples include the Outlook 2015 for Mac release and the Office 2013 updates to support multi factor authentication.
  • Office Online enables users to view and edit Word, Excel, PowerPoint, and OneNote files via a web browser for files stored inside of SharePoint Online and OneDrive for Business.
  • Each licensed Office 365 ProPlus user receives 1 TB of OneDrive for Business cloud storage for storing, syncing, sharing, and accessing their files anywhere and from any device. This will be upgraded to unlimited storage in 2015.

How do I deploy Office 365 ProPlus?

Many customers have existing processes in place for deploying Office. While Office 365 ProPlus provides some new deployment options, customers can continue to deploy Office using similar tools and techniques that they are familiar with. In summary, customers have a few options for deploying Office 365 ProPlus. They include:

  • Include Office 365 ProPlus as part of a desktop image.
  • Deploy Office 365 ProPlus to a user’s device using management tools such as System Center.
  • Enable users to install Office 365 ProPlus from an on premises network installation point.
  • Allow users to install Office 365 ProPlus directly from the Office 365 portal.

This article on TechNet provides an excellent summary of the various deployment options. The Microsoft Office 365 ProPlus: Expanding Your Deployment Skills session from TechEd is a great overview and series of demonstrations that should help you with getting started.

Want to exclude certain applications (e.g. InfoPath) from your Office 365 ProPlus package? Check out this article for the details on how to achieve this.

How can I manage updates to Office 365 ProPlus?

Depending on which deployment method you choose for deploying Office 365 ProPlus you have some options for choosing how Office updates are made.

For users that installed Office 365 ProPlus directly from the Office 365 portal, Microsoft will handle the Office updates automatically.

For customers that choose to manage the Office 365 ProPlus deployment on their own, they can choose whether users get their updates directly from Microsoft via Office 365 or if the customer wants to control when the Office updates get pushed to their managed devices, which is common in cases where the customers want/need to thoroughly test and manage the Office updates on their devices (e.g. workstations in a hospital and other highly regulated environments).

This article provides a summary of the Office update options that are available.

How is Office 365 ProPlus license activation handled?

One of the biggest changes with Office 365 ProPlus is how users are licensed and activated for using Office. Since Office can now be used on up to 15 devices per user, Microsoft manages the user’s Office entitlements and device activation – regardless of how Office gets installed and updated on the device.

This TechNet article provides a great summary of how activation occurs with Office 365 ProPlus. In summary, each user must have a valid Office 365 user account and Office 365 ProPlus license assigned to them. All Office activations are done against Office 365 and a successful connection to the service must be completed at least once every 30 days – otherwise Office will enter “reduced functionality” mode.

Do you have shared workstations (e.g. kiosks in a manufacturing location) or users that currently access Office via Remote Desktop Services (RDS)? Make sure you check out this article which provides information on how to handle Office 365 ProPlus activation in these scenarios.

How do I gain insights into my organization’s usage of add-ins, macros, and other Office applications?

Customers often have users that are leveraging 3rd party add-ins, macros, and other forms of Office customizations. While Office 365 ProPlus was designed to be backwards compatible with prior versions of Office and Office file formats, and Office 365 ProPlus can be installed side-by-side with prior versions of Office, many customers still want to have visibility into their usage of Office which helps them with planning for upgrading to a new version of Office and supporting users during and after the upgrade.

Office 365 ProPlus introduced many new telemetry tools that assist with this process. The great news is that these Office telemetry tools are available at no additional cost and are built into Office 2013. The Office telemetry tools can also be deployed and used with Office 2003, Office 2007, and Office 2010.

What is the new Office application model and store?

While Office 365 ProPlus still supports the previous Office automation and integration capabilities, such as macros, VBA, and COM add-ins, a new application model has been introduced. One of the goals of this new application model is to support modern applications that will work across platforms, including in the browser based versions of Office Online. More information on how to build these new applications can be found here on the Microsoft Developer Network (MSDN). This article provides a nice overview of the various types of apps for Office that are available.

There is a public Office application store where you can try and buy applications that have been built with the new Office application model. Your organization can also have a private app catalog where you can manage and distribute Office apps to your end users.

How do I train my end users?

Office 365 ProPlus has a similar user experience and file formats as Office 2007 and 2010. Users should already be familiar with these Office capabilities from their business and personal experience with the prior versions of Office.

There are also a number of Office training resources available such as:

  • Office training, videos, and tutorials from Microsoft provide a great foundation for getting started with Office.
  • Microsoft has created a number of Office 2013 quick start guides which are helpful – especially for new users being transitioned to Office 365 ProPlus.
  • Partners such as BrainStorm and New Horizons offer training solutions geared towards helping end users get the most value out of Office 365 ProPlus.

How do IT professionals get training?

There are a ton of resources for helping IT professionals get started with deploying and managing Office 365 ProPlus. These include: