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Install Office 365 in a Remote Desktop Services Environment

Install Office 365 in a Remote Desktop Services Environment

Once you deploy Remote Desktop Services (RDS) for employee remote access, your next step will be to install user applications as well as all your line of business applications.

One of the most widely used applications suite is Microsoft Office, particularly Microsoft Office 365.

In order to deploy Microsoft Office 365 in a Remote Desktop Services environment, a number of requirements must be met. There is also special instructions which must be followed to properly deploy it.

This information is applies to when you want to install Office 365 / Microsoft 365 to a shared virtual machine, or a golden image for VDI.

What’s required

To deploy Microsoft Office 365 on a Remote Desktop Services Server, you’ll need:

- A Remote Desktop Services Server (Configured and Running)
- Microsoft 365 Apps for Enterprise (formerly named as Office 365 ProPlus)


Special attention must be paid to licensing. In order to properly license and activate Office 365, you’ll need one of the following products that supports Shared Computer Activation:

- Microsoft 365 Apps for Enterprise (formerly known as Office 365 ProPlus)
- Office 365 E3
- Office 365 E5
- Microsoft 365 Business Premium
All 4 of these products include and support “Shared Computer Activation“.

Microsoft 365 Standard, Office 365 Business, Office 365 Business Premium, and Office 365 Business Essentials cannot be used as they do not include or support Shared Computer Activation.

An exception is made for Microsoft 365 Business Premium which actually includes Microsoft 365 Apps for Business, but doesn’t support enabling “Shared Computer Activation” via Group Policy Objects and must be done using the XML configuration file method.

Installing Office 365

Once you have the proper licensing and you’re ready to proceed, you can start!

1. First you’ll need to download the Office Deployment Tool from this link: https://go.microsoft.com/fwlink/p/?LinkID=626065. You save this wherever.
2. Create a directory that you can work in and store the Office 365 installation files. 
3. Open the file you downloaded from the Microsoft Download site, extract the files in to the working directory you created in step 2.
4. Open a Command Prompt, and change in to that working directory.
5. We’re now going to run the tool and download the x64 image using the xml that was extracted by running the following command:
   To download the 32-bit version or enterprise version, use one of the other xml files that are in the directory.
6. There will be no output and it will take a while so be patient.
7. Now we want to open the xml file we previously used (in our case “configuration-Office365-x64.xml”) and add the following lines to the file right above the final line (right above </Configuration>):
   These variables enable Shared Computer Activation and disable automatic activation. Save the file.
8. We can now install Office 365 by running the following command:
Office 365 should now install silently, and then afterwards you should be good to go!

When a user logs in for the first time it will ask them to activate on their account. The user must have a license attached to their Office 365 account.

For more information and advanced settings, you can see the Microsoft guide here: https://docs.microsoft.com/en-us/deployoffice/deploy-office-365-proplus-by-using-remote-desktop-services.

Let me know if it worked for you, leave a comment!
Creation date: 7/23/2021 1:17 PM (bruce@oecnw.com)      Updated: 7/23/2021 1:17 PM ()