RDS and shared computer support for Office 365 ProPlus coming soon!


Tim Tetrick

I frequently get asked about Office 365 ProPlus running in an RDS (Remote Desktop Services) or TS (Terminal Services) environment. 

Currently, Office 365 ProPlus will not physically install in an RDS/TS environment.  There is an exception in the Product Use Rights that allows customers to install a VL/MSI copy of Office Professional Plus 2013 on the RDS/TS server and then users can utilize one of their 5 activations of Office 365 ProPlus to access it.  In order to take advantage of this, customers must acquire the VL/MSI copy of Office Professional Plus 2013 separately.  However, this PUR exception only applies when Office 365 is purchased via Volume Licensing.  For example, Midsize Plan or E3/E4 Enterprise Plans (or Office 365 ProPlus standalone) purchased via Open licensing.  See https://blogs.technet.com/b/uspartner_ts2team/archive/2013/03/19/office-365-pro-plus-and-rds-ts-installation.aspx for more details.

Well I am excited to announce that native RDS/TS support for Office 365 ProPlus is coming, and is currently targeted to release in the second half of 2014.  It will support Office 365 ProPlus installations on Windows Server 2008 R2 or newer with RDS enabled.  This new Shared Activation Support will also work in cases where users share computers with unique Windows user profiles.

Shared Computer Activation will be enabled during the installation of Office 365 ProPlus using the Office Deployment Tool. Once enabled, Office installs without being activated. When a user signs in to a computer with Office installed via Share Computer Activation, Office will check to see if the user been provisioned for Office 365 ProPlus and temporary activate Office 365 ProPlus until that user logs out. If a second user signs in to the same computer, the activation does not persist from the first user and process is repeated.

For more details, and to see a demonstration of the new Shared Activation Support, see https://blogs.office.com/2014/05/14/the-garage-series-for-office-365-updates-to-office-365-proplus-for-admins-and-first-look-at-upcoming-shared-computer-support/.  (Shared Activation Support starts at about the 10:30 mark of the video).

Also just announced today is the ability via the new Office Deployment Tool to de-select unwanted Office apps when deploying Office 365 ProPlus.  This has been a common request that was previously not possible with Office 365 ProPlus.  For example, if you want to deploy Office 365 ProPlus without installing Access, or InfoPath, or any one of the other Office apps, this is now possible!  See the same blog post above for more information on this new capability as well.

Thanks for reading!