Some more info on Shared Computer Activation with Office 365 ProPlus


Todd Sweetser

Hi Cloud Sellers!

Many should be aware of the recently announced support for Shared Computer Activation with Office 365 ProPlus. This makes it possible to install and use Office 365 ProPlus (the Office client) onto a Remote Desktop Services (RDS) Windows Server, shared virtual machine or a shared workstation. See my colleague Tim Tetrick’s recent blog post discussing this announcement and links to further info here: Office 365 shared computer activation

I decided to test this for myself and found that, while it can get complicated if you need to do detailed customizing to the install, for a basic install of Office 365 ProPlus onto a RDS role-enabled Windows Server the process it was quite simple and easy!

Note that the Office Deployment Tool is the key. This handy resource allows you to customize the install of Office 365 ProPlus. It is required to enable the Shared Computer Activation ability. So, first step is to download the ODT (which can be done from here.) When installed to your server/workstation you will have 2 files:

Setup.exe
configuration.xml

Simple as that. You set your configuration file with certain settings, and then run setup.exe with switch and point it to your specific configuration.xml file (which could be named differently.)

My initial install involved multiple steps as I downloaded the Office 365 ProPlus install image to a file share (on a separate server, though not required) before I ran the actual install. First step was to create a file share to store the Office install image to, shared it has \\Server_Name\Office15\ (with appropriate permissions.) Then I created a configuration_Download.xml file that contained the following:

<Configuration>
<Add SourcePath="\\Server_Name\Office15\" OfficeClientEdition="32" >
<Product ID="O365ProPlusRetail">
<Language ID="en-us" />
</Product>
</Add>
</Configuration>

From a command prompt sitting in the directory where the ODT is I then ran the following:

setup.exe /download configuration_Download.xml

This downloaded the Office install files into the \\Server_Name\Office15 share. (BTW, this can be helpful when your environment does not have a large pipe to the internet as all users will download Office from a local server versus all pulling it from our Content Delivery Network.) Next, I logged into the RDS enabled server that I was to install Office 365 ProPlus onto. I copied the ODT files to a local directory and created the following configuration xml file:

<Configuration>
<Add SourcePath="\\Server_Name\Office15\" OfficeClientEdition="32" >
<Product ID="O365ProPlusRetail">
<Language ID="en-us" />
</Product>
</Add>
<Display Level="None" AcceptEULA="True" />
<Property Name="SharedComputerLicensing" Value="1" />
</Configuration>

With that set I ran the command to run the setup.exe to install Office 365 ProPlus to the RDS server so it can be used in this shared environment:

setup.exe /configure configuration.xml

When complete the Office 365 ProPlus applications were installed and available for all users that have access to the Remote Desktop Server host. Note that each user will need to be licensed for Office 365 ProPlus and will need to authenticate, which will activate Office 365 ProPlus for that user during that session. (See Overview of shared computer activation for Office 365 ProPlus for further details.)

After this was complete I wanted to see if it was possible to use the Office Deployment Kit without the download step. Meaning, have the ODT directly install the Office 365 ProPlus client from the CDN. Makes sense for this scenario, as there is not a bandwidth issue and it is not being installed onto hundreds of workstations in a network. Just installing to one (could be a few) RDS servers.

Well, did some research and found out that this is indeed possible! If you simply do not specify the SourcePath in the configuration xml file it will default to pulling the Office bits down from the CDN. Here is the configuration file that was used to accomplish this:

<Configuration>
<Add OfficeClientEdition="32" >
<Product ID="O365ProPlusRetail">
<Language ID="en-us" />
</Product>
</Add>
<Display Level="None" AcceptEULA="True" />
<Property Name="SharedComputerLicensing" Value="1" />
</Configuration>

Note the only item missing is the SourcePath from previous example. Without that it is pulling the Office bits from the Microsoft CDN and you do not need to download them first.

Hope this helps anyone who runs into this scenario!

Comments (12)

  1. Ibi says:

    When the license token expires, is the user prompted to re-enter their Office 365 login details? Or is this handled behind the scenes? I would imagine the SCA licensing is better streamlined for ADFS-oriented environments, whereby there is a common UPN
    shared between AD and Azure; just thinking about a large XenApp farm with say 10 servers would require the user to enter Office 365 creds at least 10 times.

    Thanks

  2. Todd says:

    Hi Ibi, suggest you review info here on how Shared Computer Activation works:
    http://technet.microsoft.com/en-us/library/dn782860(v=office.15).aspx ; thanks!

  3. Anonymous says:

    Rob Waggoner I have a number of discussions around RDS, especially around Microsoft Azure and the question

  4. rod says:

    I followed your instructions, downloaded files locally and configured my xml file witht he only difference being to exclude Lync from the install. I receive this message when trying to run the Office programs: "This copy of Microsoft Office 2013 cannot
    be used on a computer running Terminal Services. To use Office 2013 on a computer running Terminal Services, you must use a Volume License edition of Office”.

    E3 licenses, trial edition for the moment, wanted to make sure that share able would work on my Windows 2008 R2 Standard RDS server.

    Any ideas?

    Thanks,
    Rod

  5. rod says:

    For anyone who installs Office 365 ProPlus on an RDS server and receives the "This copy of Microsoft Office 2013 cannot be used on a computer running Terminal Services. To use Office 2013 on a computer running Terminal Services, you must use a Volume License
    edition of Office” message, check HKLMSOFTWAREMicrosoftOffice15.0ClickToRunConfiguration in the registry for the string SharedComputerLicensing with a setting of 1.

    Solved my problem.

    Thanks,
    Rod

  6. greg says:

    Any time I have either or both of these lines in the configuration.xml file:

    I get the error
    "Couldn’t install"
    We’re sorry, we had a problem installing your Office program(s) …

    I’m just trying to install Office ProPlus on a 2012 R2 RDS server as a part of a trial. This should work right?

  7. greg says:

    Sorry… previous post didn’t display properly.

    I meant the Display Level or Property Name fields shown above.

    Thanks for any advice.

  8. Doug says:

    Rod – Thanks for the tip on the registry string, that worked for me too!

  9. JC says:

    This works flawless unless you have MFA in your company. In that case is a real problem. The office activation asks for a permanent token instead of the user’s password. If you try to use the password it gives you a "Wrong Password or UserName" error.

    I will be thrilled if someone knows how to fix this.

  10. Anonymous says:

    Rob Waggoner Q: Which SKUs of Office 365 can I use in a Terminal Server / Remote Desktop Services (RDS

  11. dustin says:

    When installing Office 365 ProPlus on RDS servers what options do we have to control which Office updates are installed? I E what if the line of business app requires 2013 because 2016 is not compatible?

  12. Todd says:

    Dustin, when using Click-to-Run you can choose which version to install. See details at
    https://technet.microsoft.com/EN-US/library/jj219423.aspx ; and choose the appropriate tool, the 2013 vs the 2016 version. The updates delivered will be the updates for that version, which
    you can control as well per
    https://technet.microsoft.com/EN-US/library/dn761709.aspx Thanks!

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