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Remote Desktop Services Support for Office 365 ProPlus

Microsoft has announced that support is on the way for organizations using Remote Desktop Services (RDS) or shared computers. Shared Computer Activation for Office 365 ProPlus is targeted to release in the second half of 2014 and will support Office 365 ProPlus installation on Windows Server 2008 R2 or newer with the RDS enabled. It will also work in cases where users share computers with unique Windows user profiles.

If you use RDS (aka "Terminal Services" before the name was changed in 2008) or have shared workstations, it can be difficult to use the current Office 365 ProPlus subscription activation model. With RDS, there are technical blocks preventing admins from installing or running Office 365 ProPlus on a Windows Server with the RDS role enabled. For shared physical or virtual clients, because subscription activation assumes and assigns a PC/Mac to a primary user it can become challenging to manage as users enter or leave an organization.

Shared Computer Activation will be enabled during the installation of Office 365 ProPlus using the Office Deployment Tool. Once enabled, Office installs without being activated. When a user signs in to a computer with Office installed via Share Computer Activation, Office will check to see if the user has been provisioned for Office 365 ProPlus and temporarily activate Office 365 ProPlus until that user logs out. If a second user signs in to the same computer, the activation does not persist from the first user and the process is repeated. This is effectively how Office on Demand activation works today, but using Shared Computer Activation the Office installation is permanent and can be updated. Because this uses the same activation logic as Office on Demand, it does not count against a user's five total installations of Office 365 ProPlus or Office for Mac.