This information is intended to help IT Professionals with licensing issues for Office 365 on a Remote Desktop Server (RDS). Microsoft RDS allows multiple users in an organization to access desktops and applications on a centralized server within the organization. This allows for easy application management and provisioning as well as a convenient method to remotely access corporate applications when users are outside the office.

One of the key applications in any RDS environment is Microsoft Office. Many organizations have Office 365 subscriptions that include Microsoft Office software. However, not all Office 365 subscriptions allow you to use that software in an RDS environment.

Here’s a familiar scenario that happens all too often in IT shops when deploying Office 365 in a Remote Desktop environment for small to medium-sized businesses.

Business Scenario – Company ABC Inc. has 60 users in total, 10 of whom are approved by management to work remotely or work from home two days throughout the week and the other 50 to work at ABC Inc.’s head office.

Diagram 1

You cannot use the Office license included with Office 365 Business Premium on a Remote Desktop Server environment.

There are two approaches to meeting legal compliance when deploying Office 365 in an RDS environment for the 10 remote workers:

  1. Purchase a volume license for Microsoft Office for 10 approved company devices in this scenario. Please note users must also be provisioned to access any applications installed through the RDS environment with an RDS Client Access License (CAL) for each user or device used to access the server remotely.
  2. Purchase 0ffice 365 ProPlus subscription license which comes with software assurance for the 10 users and their home devices such as a tablet or desktop, allowing remote users access to O365 applications in the RDS environment via their designated company or personal devices.

Both approaches mentioned above are guidelines and best practices supported by Microsoft that will enable the provisioning of RDS, allowing the company to meet legal compliance and prevent any headaches that may arise if you are audited by Microsoft.