Installing Office 365 Pro Plus on an RDS server

*** Please see this update – ***

Office 365 Pro Plus on a RDS (Terminal Server) is a very common question I see all the time. A while ago I wrote an detailed article around the licencing of Office 365 Pro Plus in an RDS environment. You can read the full blog post if you want to as it is still valid, but in summary what it says is that if you purchase Office 365 via a web console, that is either via the Microsoft console or via the Telstra portal here in Australia that product is NOT licensed to run on any type of RDS environment. The only way that you can run Office 365 Pro Plus in an RDS environment is if Office 365 was purchased via an Open agreement (basically volume licensing). That is basically the same as it is with other versions of Office, RDS is only supported with volume licensing.

With that answered, next question is normally about actually installing Office 365 Pro Plus in a RDS environment. The challenge is the software you get from Office 365 is ‘click to run’ which won’t install on a RDS machine. So how do you actually go about getting Office Pro Plus onto a RDS machine when you have Office 365 via Open?

Strangely enough, it is exactly the same as when you have normal Office, you need to purchase Office Pro Plus software and Volume License key that allows the installation. For reference see the following document;

Licensing Microsoft Office Pro Plus Subscription Service in Volume Licensing

which says:

How do customers get access to Office Professional Plus 2013 media for use with RDS deployments?
Customer must have access to Volume Licensing Service Center (VLSC) and Volume Licensing keys to install and activate Office Professional Plus 2013 media on network servers for RDS scenarios with Office 365 ProPlus licenses. Access to media and keys in VLSC vary among different Volume License agreements, such as Enterprise Agreement and Open. Depending on your agreement type and previous Office license purchases, you may have access to Office Professional Plus 2013. If Office Professional Plus 2013 media and key are not available to you, a Volume Licensing
partner may assist you with the purchase of an Office Professional Plus 2013 license to support your rights to deploy Office software on a network server with RDS role enabled.

Thus, if you have only purchase Office 365 via Open you will also need to purchase one Office Pro Plus media and key via Volume Licensing to actually support the installation.

This of course is an additional cost on top of any Office 365 licenses purchase which many resellers fail to factor in. They then get a nasty surprise when they attempt an install using ‘click-to-run’ and it doesn’t work. They get an even nastier shock when they discover they have to purchase one additional Office Pro Plus license to do the RDS installation. But by far the worst is when they have to go back to the customer and ask them for more money to cover this or swallow the increase themselves.

I hear lots of bitching an moaning about this from resellers but in all honesty it is the same as it for most other versions of Office. You can’t install Office Pro Plus in an RDS environment with a retail version of Office Pro Plus, you again need to purchase the media and key via volume licensing.

Now, I appreciate that there is an extra cost and it would be nice to get the media an key as part of Office 365 Open, and that may well come down the track, but you do have the additional benefit of being able to install Office 365 on in an RDS environment that you once couldn’t. Time to look at the cup half full guys I think.   

The secret is knowing what you can and can’t do and hopefully after reading this post it will have answered these questions which without doubt are the most common I see.

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