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Utilizing Office 365 with Remote Desktop Services

Organized Server RoomUntil relatively recently, you could not install Office 365 Pro Plus on a Remote Desktop Server (RDS). Product activation used an Office 365 e-mail address rather than a traditional Volume License key. Also, the new click-to-run technology would check for the RDS role and refuse to install. In 2014, Microsoft began to address RDS with Office 365. However, there is still much confusion about this topic.

Traditional Approach. The easiest path is still simply to purchase an Open License copy of Office Pro Plus, because of the variations of Office 365 subscriptions and versions of RDS operating systems. Microsoft uses a point system for volume licensing purchases. If you have an existing Volume License Agreement you can just purchase 1 copy. Otherwise, you must purchase a minimum of 5 licenses. Now you can easily install Office Pro Plus like you would on any workstation. You are also properly licensed for more than 5 users of Office Pro Plus, assuming each user has an Office 365 license that includes Office Pro Plus.

New Option. If all of your remote users have Office 365 E3 subscriptions or higher, you can now use the Office Deployment Tool to deploy Office 365 Pro Plus on RDS. When you follow the link, you’ll see the tool creates a configuration file and you run the Office Pro Plus setup with a command switch to configure. By the way, the Office Deployment Tool may be similarly used to deploy Office Pro Plus to desktops.

Other Considerations. Obviously, you must change to install mode on RDS before installing either Open License or Office 365 versions of Office Pro Plus. If you’re going to have more than a handful of remote users, you should also review firewall settings for cloud computing. Office 365 uses a significant amount of dynamic redirection so caching should not be enabled. Likewise, flood mitigation must be adjusted as the majority of Internet traffic will now come from one device and may be automatically blocked by the firewall as an attack.

See the Office 365 center for other expert advice and we welcome any other suggestions you may have below.

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