Remote Desktop Services in Office 365

*** Update 9 September 2014 *****

*** Please see this update – ***

It has been brought to my attention that this post has figured in a recent APAC Google Enterprise newsletter. Having seen the newsletter and being disappointed in the negative approach it has taken to Office 365 I have decided to provide the following points to balance the attempt to insinuate in any way that Office 365 is inferior by what I detailed originally.

1. In no way does the issue below prevent Office 365 services (such as email and collaboration) from operating or reduce their functionality in any way.

2. The subset of customers who this applies to is extremely small when compared to the overall market.

3. Alternate solutions from Microsoft are available.

4. The inclusion of full desktop productivity applications is something that no other vendor provides, to my knowledge, with their cloud offerings.

5. Each qualifying user can install Office desktop software, for MAC or PC, from Office 365 on up to 5 devices.

6. This is the way the product has always been (since Office 365 was launched), so nothing has effectively changed.

7. I still firmly believe desktop software via Office 365 provides the most cost effective solution for customers looking to keep up to date with the latest products they are familiar with, want to use and will work with and without an Internet connection.

Let’s see all products compete on what benefits they provide to end users and not waste energy elsewhere.

I leave the original post unchanged below and also point out that at any time in the future this licensing can be changed. 


Please note that this post supersedes any of the information I have posted previously on this topic. I also hope I have all this right (fingers crossed).

After further research and contact with Microsoft to get the ‘correct’ information on Remote Desktop Services with Office 2013 Professional Plus via Office 365, in summary I can tell you that:

Any Office 2013 Professional Plus product purchased via the Office 365 console is NOT licensed for Remote Desktop Services no matter what the SKU or plan.

The details are:

At this Office 365 link:

Enterprise value –

under the heading Desktop virtualization (user-dedicated VDI and RDS) it says:

Only Office 365 ProPlus customers with a volume license version of Office Professional Plus 2013 can use Remote Desktop Services (RDS).”

Thus, from the Service Descriptions table in my previous post:



You see 2 subscript. That reads (my emphasis):

“Office 365 ProPlus is supported on user-dedicated virtual desktop infrastructure (VDI). To use Remote Desktop Services (RDS), you must use a volume license version of Office Professional Plus 2013, which is available on the Microsoft Volume Licensing Service Center. For more information, see Microsoft Volume Licensing” Product Use Rights.

This therefore means that WITHOUT Office 2013 Professional Plus Volume Licensing you cannot run use an Office 365 version of Office 2013 for Remote Desktop Services via ANY license.

My previous post highlighted that the Product Use Rights (PUR) listed the M (Mid size business) plan is being available for Remote Desktop Services. Revisiting that more carefully  you find:


Again, if you have Volume Licensing then the M SKU allows Remote Desktop Services.

Here is a response from Microsoft (Partner Technical Consultant) in regards to the issues around the Office 365 M SKU and Remote Desktop Services mentioned in a previous post (my emphasis):

I just got confirmation from the license team.

Both service description and PUR are correct.

If customer purchases Midsize business plan from Office 365 portal, this M plan does not have rights for RDS.

However, if customer purchase Office 365 Midsize business through an Open Business agreement(Volume license), this M plan has rights for RDS.

That is why Office 365 service description lists M plan does not have RDS access permission (as it is for customers who purchase from O365 portal) and PUR lists Office 365 M plan has RDS access permission (as it is for customers who purchase via Volume licensing).

I hope this information address your question.

Now the issue here in Australia is slightly different as for purchases of <250 generally they are completed through the exclusive syndication partner, Telstra. This includes the M SKU. That being the case, the M SKU is therefore not available to be purchased in Australia via Volume Licensing. So, in Australia, the M plan is also excluded from Remote Desktop Services.

This is the response I received from Microsoft Australia Office 365 Product Manager to my previous posts:

I believe you have been blogging on the licensing construct for RDS in Office 365.  I wanted to make sure that you have the official response from Microsoft as it relates to Office 365 and specifically in Syndication in Australia.

With this update of Office 365, Microsoft has addressed the need for customers to run Office 365 ProPlus in virtualized environments using a combination of technical improvements and licensing terms. Functionally, Office 365 ProPlus supports dedicated Virtual Desktop Infrastructure (VDI) environments, but does not work in other configurations including Remote Desktop Service (RDS) and Windows To Go scenarios.

For virtualization situations where Office 365 ProPlus does not work, Microsoft has created a licensing-based workaround that allows customers with an Enterprise Agreement to install Office Professional Plus under the terms and conditions of the Office 365 ProPlus license Product Use Rights (PUR).  This work-around, unfortunately, does not apply to Office 365 procured via syndication, as described within the Reseller User Rights (RUR).

The current user rights allow for the following:






ProPlus, E3, E4


Supported using Professional Plus download


Midsize Business, ProPlus, E3, E4



We have heard the feedback around the need for an Office 365 RDS solution for all our customers and even though we are not able to resolve this within our current systems and licensing constraints, we will advise if there is a change to the RUR sometime in the future.

Please see the appropriate solutions as recommended by Microsoft in the case of a Remote Desktop requirement:

A.         Customer requires Remote Desktop and has 250+ seats.  Microsoft recommend that the customer consider signing an Enterprise Agreement with Microsoft, which will support the Volume Licensing work-around that is currently in place.  Please note that the M-SKU is not available on an Enterprise Agreement and will only allow for the E-SKU. 

B.         Customer requires Remote Desktop and has less than 250 seats.  Microsoft recommends that the customer purchase Office 365 E1/E2 SKU from Telstra and then purchase the required number of Office Pro licenses through your Volume License provider, as long as it is over 5 seats.


1. When you purchase any Office 365 plan from the portal or via a syndication partner Office 2013 Professional Plus DOES NOT include Remote Desktop rights.

2. To receive Remote Desktop right for Office 2013 Professional Plus via Office 365 you need to have an Office 2013 Professional Plus Volume License.

This means that Office 2013 Professional Plus via Office 365 basically has the same rights as the previous version of Office (2010 Professional Plus) had, that being no Remote Desktop or Terminal Server.

I’m sure that is going to disappoint many and I hope Microsoft does change this soon.

13 thoughts on “Remote Desktop Services in Office 365

  1. Very much a kick in the guts to existing and potential SMB clients who use RDS and want to use Office 365 as their solution.Very disappointing and as you say I hope this is addressed soon by Microsoft.As always thank you for the low down on this overly complicated mess.JB.


  2. This is incorrect information. This is the article I started my research from (and one of my previous blog posts also indicated that until I dug further). The information above is the definitive source from Microsoft and as the Microsoft Partner blog above notes, to be licensed for RDS you MUST have volume licensing no matter where you buy the plans from.The correct information (Which I have presented here I believe) is not very clear in my opinion. That is why it is easy to confuse as I did initially and so did Aidan.


  3. From the Microsoft direct:”Customers that purchase using MOSP (the portal) or a Syndication partner (like Telstra in AU) do not receive the licensing terms (RDS) since they are not purchasing through a Volume Licensing program.”


  4. What are Microsoft playing at? this situation is an absolute shambles and yet another reason why Australia needs an IT Professional channel for Office 365 along side Telstra.


  5. I have heard that its a NO GO to install Office 2013 on RDS servers in a customer shared environment.So we cannot host customers ERP systems and have them integrate to Office 2013/365 on RDS servers.Not good!!!!


  6. You can install Office 2013 on RDS but it must be Office 2013 via Volume Licensing not from Office 365.So you CAN host ERP systems and integrate them with Office 2013 and Office 365 you simply need to use Office 2013 Volume Licensing or perhaps SPLA.


  7. thanks but I have heard that Microsoft very aggressively states that IT IS NOT allowed on shared environments. For example NOT allowed to have one customers RDS server as a HyperV geust on a HyperV host that has other customers servers as guest. I can't see the problem with that as long as we follow the rules that you described regarding a Volume license.I just want to be 110% sure not to break any licensing policies.


  8. I know of no place where what you are alluding to is laid out by Microsoft. They are in the business of selling more software so I could only assume that it is permitted. The only limitation is probably around the licensing required to permit this. To my mind something like SPLA is probably what is the most appropriate but I am no licensing expert.I would not base business assumptions on what you may have 'heard'. I would suggest you contact Microsoft directly for the correct way to achieve what you want. They are generally very keen to see people sell more of their product.


  9. I must have missed something. Sorry for that. You MUST be right Robert when you say that we CAN combine office 2013 / 365 on RDS servers as long as the customer have both SPLA licenses for 2013 and licenses for 365.


  10. I am still a little confused. Some posts suggest one thing and others suggest another. Lets try a scenario:A company has 100 employees who all access 5 Citrix servers running XenApp 6 hosted desktops (ie. same as RDS) via a thin client. If we bought 100 Office 365 Mid-sized licenses through Telstra Syndication and then bought 5 OfficeProPlus+SA licenses via volume licensing to be installed on the Citrix servers. Would this satisfy license requirements, or would they be in breach?


  11. Julian,Remote Desktop Services is NOT available when purchasing via Office 365 from the console (i.e without an Enterprise Agreement). You would need to use Volume Licensing for any Remote desktop. If you bought the M plan that includes Office 365 from Telstra NONE of these are licensed for Remote Desktop. To do Remote Desktop you would have to purchase additional Office 2013 licenses under Volume Licensing. In effect if you went with the M plan you would be purchasing Office 2013 twice for any Remote Desktop user.The statement above from Microsoft and the link to their official blog categorically states that ANY Office 2013 bought from the console (i.e. via Telstra) is not available for ANY Remote Desktop solution. I appreciate there are other posts suggesting otherwise but I can let you know that my information comes directly from people at MS as I put in the post.Hope that helps.ThanksRobert


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s