Terminal Services and Office 365

*** Updated 26 March 2013 *** Please see the blog post Remote Desktop Services in Office 365 for details on the fact that Terminal Services with Office 365 is only available in conjunction with Office Volume Licensing.

*** Update 18 March 2013 *** Please see the blog post More on Terminal Services and Office 365 for details on how Terminal Services is only available for certain plans.
One of the most asked questions I see around Office 365 by resellers is ‘Can I run Office Professional Plus that comes with Office 365 on a Terminal Server?’. At the moment there are two answers.
For Wave 14 (older version of Office 365 – prior to Feb 27th 2013) Office Professional Plus 2010 was only available with the E3 and E4 SKUs. However, even if you purchased these plans, the version of Office Professional Plus 2010 that came with them was not licensed to run on a Terminal Server. What many people don’t realize is that this version of Office Professional Plus 2010 is not licensed to run under ANY remote condition according to:
where it says the following:
“Contrary to the software licensed under desktop application licenses for Microsoft Office, Office Professional Plus for Office 365 may not be deployed on a server or desktop and accessed remotely from another desktop. Customers may only use Office Professional Plus for Office 365 locally. Remote Use Rights are not available under Office Professional Plus for Office 365 licenses.”
Reading that says to me that not only can’t Office Professional Plus 2010 from Office 365 (Wave 14) be installed on a Terminal Server but you can also NOT access it remotely if you have it installed on your desktop. You can ONLY use Office Professional Plus 2010 from Office 365 if you are physically at the keyboard.
For the recently released version of Office 365 (Wave 15) that now includes Office Professional Plus 2013 via a number of plans (P2, M, E3 and E4) remote access rights are very different.
As Aidan Finn points out at:
Great news for customers of Office 365.  When you get your free bundled Office 2013, you’ll be entitled to use it on Remote Desktop Services (aka Terminal Services).  In other words, if your company is into server-based computing, you’re going to save money.
You can find out the specifics in the Microsoft Product Usage Rights (PUR) document.  Under Office 365ProPlus:

  1. Each user to whom you assign a User SL may activate the software for local or remote use on up to five concurrent OSEs.
  2. The Licensed User may also use the software activated by another user under a different User SL.
  3. Each user may also use one of the five activations on a network server with the Remote Desktop Services (RDS) role enabled.
  4. You may allow other users to remotely access the software solely to provide support services.

Now this solves the issue about whether an Office 365 Office Professional Plus users is licensed for Remote Desktop Services (they are) but it still leaves an issue with actually installing Office 2013 Professional Plus on a Terminal Server.
If you attempt to install Office 2013 ‘click to run’ on a Terminal Server you will get an error as outlined in this KB Article:
The article outlines how the ‘click to run’ version of Office 2013 is designed this way. So, if you only have Office 2013 Professional Plus from Office 365 (which are ‘click to run’ versions) how you actually get Office 2013 installed on a Terminal Server?
From what I can determine, if you want to do the installation of Office 2013 software on a Terminal Server you’ll need to shell out for an additional version of Office 2013 that allows installation on a Terminal Server. The available versions that support this are either Full Packaged Product (FPP) or Volume Licensing (VL).
You should also consider that Volume Licensing (VL) is not that difficult to purchase as all you need is a total of 5 licenses of any eligible Microsoft products I believe (and there are lots of cheap ones), one of which could be Office 2013 Professional Plus.
Now, it would be nice if you could obtain a version of Office Professional Plus 2013 via Office 365 that WOULD install on a Terminal Server and that may still come (fingers crossed) but for now the whole remote desktop scenario is so much better with this new version of Office 365. Still some minor additional cost and hassle but again SO MUCH better that what it used to be. Kudos to Microsoft for listening and making the change.

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