Can I use Office365 licenses in a RDS environment?

This week, I was presented with an interesting challenge. It required me to find out if it is possible to use Office365 licenses to deploy Office-apps to a RDS (formerly Terminal Services) environment. Is this possible, both from a license- and technical point of view?

The short answer is “Yes, with the proper Office365 subscription”.

Installing Office in RDS

In this article, RDS stands for “Remote Desktop Services”, the new name of “Terminal Server”. You’ve got to admit the new name sounds a whole lot less morbid.

If you want to install Office in a RDS environment, you will run into an error. Regular versions of Office can’t be installed in a RDS environment. This is both true for retail copies of Office 2016 and the Office suite that is included with Office365 Business and Office365 Business Premium.

To install Office in a RDS environment, you will need to install OfficePlus or Office Professional 2016. Ignoring the later, let’s focus on Office365 and getting it to work for you.

OfficePlus is integrated with three Office365 plans:

  • Office365 OfficePlus
  • Office365 Enterprise E3
  • Office365 EnterPrise E5

Using RDS in Office365 requires a license for the specific user that wants to use the software. So you need to make sure that you have an appropriate license for every user whom is going to access the applications through RDS.

OfficePlus uses Shared Device Authentication, a setting which allows using the software in RDS without problems (unless you lose your internet connection).

Once OfficePlus is installed, you need to make sure that the user has the proper license assigned. OfficePlus and Office365 Enterprise E3 are generally available. This means that you could simply buy the new license(s) from Microsoft or your partner and then upgrade the license per user. Don’t forget to cancel the old license, though ,or you are paying double.

If I had to choose between the two licenses, I would be getting the Office365 Enterprise 3 licenses. Unless, of course, there is a specific scenario where you are hosting your e-mail outside of Office365. In that case, you will need to buy the OfficePlus licenses for each one of the users.

I hope this short article answers the question I had regarding Office365 and RDS installations. Leave your feedback in the comments or hit us up on social media!

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