RDS and Shared Computer Activation Walkthrough for Office 365 Pro Plus


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Garrett Bundy
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Hello Partners,

  I spent this week traveling and visiting with my partners in Phoenix and during this trip there was a single reoccurring theme that kept coming up.  I have a customer who uses Remote Desktop Services (RDS) or Terminal Services if you like the old acronym, to deliver a desktop to their end users.  As a result of this the partners needed to understand how to allow their customers to license Office 365 Pro Plus and use it in their customer’s environment.

  The first part of the equation is the licensing piece.  If a customer is using this RDS/TS model, does each user need to have their own O365 ProPlus license assigned to them, whether through the E3 SKU or the ProPlus by itself SKU? The short answer is yes, if you are running office as a full-fledged user in your environment you must be licensed to launch the office suite.  Remember that Office ProPlus is now licensed per user and not per device, therefore no matter which way you launch the program you must have a license assigned to the user.

  Next is how do I install on my RDS environment.  There is a very detailed write up located here: https://technet.microsoft.com/en-us/library/dn782858.aspx but I’ll try to give you what you need here.

Pre-Requisite Steps:

1. Make sure you have a supported plan in Office 365 and each user that will be accessing the server has an Office Pro Plus license assigned to them

2. Download the Office Deployment Toolkit.  Please note that there are two separate versions, one for the Office 2013 deployment and one for Office 2016.

a. Office Deployment Tool (Office 2013 version)

b. Office Deployment Tool (Office 2016 version)

3. Make a local copy of the source files on your network (https://technet.microsoft.com/en-us/library/jj219424.aspx)

4. Make sure you have a reliable internet connection to the RDS server, and it’s running a supported version of Server (2008 R2, 2012 or 2012 R2)

5. Your RDS environment is prepared for each user that will be logging in.

Now it’s time to make a decision, are we installing into a server configured as a Remote Desktop Session Host or a Shared Virtual Machine? The procedures are similar but slightly different.

For an RDS Host do the following:

1. Create a configuration.xml filethat includes the following lines:

<Display Level="None" AcceptEULA="True" />

<Property Name="SharedComputerLicensing" Value="1" />

You have now set the display level to “None” to do a silent installation of Office 365 ProPlus. This prevents Office 365 ProPlus from trying to activate during the installation. This also means that you won’t see any user interface elements during the installation, such as the progress of the installation or error messages.

You use the SharedComputerLicensing setting to enable shared computer activation, which is required to use Office 365 ProPlus on a shared computer.

2. Use the Office Deployment Tool and the configuration.xml file to install Office 365 ProPlus on the RD Session Host server.

At this point, users can connect to the RD Session Host server and use Office 365 ProPlus. Users can connect to the server by using Remote Desktop Connection, which is available in Windows, or by using other Remote Desktop clients.

For a shared virtual machine it’s a slightly different process:

Follow the instructions to install Office 365 ProPlus as part of an operating system image. In Step 2 of the instructions, make sure that your configuration.xml file also includes the following line to enable shared computer activation:

<Property Name="SharedComputerLicensing" Value="1" />

 

Once you have completed these steps, finish installing Windows Server, Install and configure RDS and allow your users access and you are done!Till Next Time,Garrett

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