On July 1st, 2019 Microsoft announced it will support running Office 365 ProPlus on Windows Server 2019.

Where running Microsoft Office 365 ProPlus was supported on platforms such as Windows Server 2008 R2, Windows Server 2012R2 or Windows Server 2016, it was not supported when Windows Server 2019 first saw the light of day. Actually, users did find a workaround to run Office 365 on WS2019 by using VDI access instead of RemoteApp. However, these workarounds open another box of complexity as well as some undesired licensing consequences.

We can only assume Microsoft wanted to give some extra wind to its Windows Virtual Desktop offer, and only support running Office 365 ProPlus in Windows 10 enterprise (multi-Session). This, however, meant it was supported only on Azure. With official support on Windows Server 2019, Microsoft now also enables businesses and “hosters” to provide a hosted version of Microsoft Office. The good news, in other words, is that Windows Server 2019 is now also an officially supported platform for Office 365 ProPlus.

What are the options to run “Office” apps?

For the sake of simplicity, in this overview, we will focus on running the ‘fat’ client version (Office 365 ProPlus) of the popular Office suite. Users with an Office 365 subscription also have to the online ‘Web App’ version of the service, and this is available independent of below-chosen scenario.

1. Without Server Based Computing (i.e. install everything on your local computer). Note: Here we make abstraction of the classic perpetual licensing model and only focus on Office 365.

    1. For SMB’s with less than 300 users: You can install Office apps like Outlook, Word, Excel & PowerPoint locally on your desktop/laptop as of the “Office 365 Business” suite. It allows you to install the different apps on up to 8 different devices, but all are linked to the same user account and credentials (ref price July 1st, 2019 is 8,25$/user/month).
    2. For businesses with more than 300 users: similar to Office 365 Business, but here you will need the Office 365 ProPlus product or any of the enterprise suites that include ProPlus (such as Office 365 E3). (Office 365 ProPlus ref price July 1st, 2019 is 12$/user/month). More on the differences below.

2. With Server Based Computing (i.e. install the desktop apps on a central infrastructure and get remote access from ‘any device’)

    1. Deployed in “a” public or private cloud
      • The default scenario here is to install Office 365 ProPlus (or bundles including Office 365 ProPlus) as RemoteApp on Windows Server (from 2008 to 2019). One can do these for RemoteDesktops or VDI’. For every named user that gets access to any of the Office applications, a valid Office 365 account will be needed.
      • One can also opt to install Office 2019 perpetual. This suite does include apps such as Outlook, Word, and Excel, but, excludes the collaboration services such as OneDrive and Skype/Teams which are part of the different Office 365 suites. Every user that gets access to the any of the Office applications will need a valid license (even if you’d install in only once).
      • “Hosters”, “Service Providers” and “ISV’s” can also opt for Microsoft’s SPLA model (Service Provider License Agreement). The Office license (not Office 365) can here be rented on a Pay-per-Use and monthly basis. Practically, similar to Office 365 ProPlus, you would typically install the Office as RemoteApp or RemoteDesktop on Windows Server. Note that not any business is eligible to consume SPLA licenses. Providers will typically package and bundle this with other services (e.g. other software, server hosting, etc). Learn more!
    2. Deployed on Microsoft Azure
      When deploying on Azure, there is an extra option which comes available. Here you can leverage Windows Virtual Desktop, or, more specifically Windows 10 Enterprise Multi-Session. In this scenario, you don’t require a Microsoft RDS CAL (as you don’t run it on Windows Server), but you will require a Windows Enterprise 10 license combined with Office 365 ProPlus (or all-inclusive bundles such as Microsoft 365 E3)

Important: with the acquisition of FSLogix by Microsoft, Microsoft can now provide a much better experience to run Office apps in virtual environments. And this without any additional costs as FSLogix is part of the RDS CAL and a lot of other licenses (read this blog post for more info).

Office 365 ProPlus vs. Office 365 Business

Office 365 ProPlus & Office 365 Business are pretty similar products. Both of them provide access locally on your device and in the Microsoft Cloud to Word, PowerPoint, Excel, … They can be installed on up to 5 devices per user, and, the software can be upgraded to the latest version at any time. Both models are also part of a subscription license.

The main differences:

  • The price: Office 365 Business starts at 8,25$/user/month. Office 365 ProPlus starts at 12$/users
  • The number of users: Office 365 Business is limited to 300 users. ProPlus doesn’t have any restriction
  • Microsoft Access: this is not included in Office 365 Business, but it is part of ProPlus
  • Server Based Computing compatibility: Office 365 Business cannot be deployed in a Server Based Computing (Windows Server) environment. For Office 365 ProPlus this is supported (and now also on Windows Server 2019)

Running Office 365 in Awingu

For Awingu customers, all of the above scenario’s can apply.

Power users will want to use the ‘full’ version of the Office apps. Here, it will typically be deployed as RemoteApp. Service Providers will typically opt for the SPLA model. Businesses and Enterprises for the Office 365 ProPlus based suites.

For ‘light’ users, Office 365 Web Apps can also be used. Here, the Single Sign-On capability between Awingu and Office 365 can be leveraged. End-users will still use Awingu as their Unified Workspace and launch the relevant web apps from there.

Hybrid scenarios can also exist where users deploy a version of Office 365 ProPlus on their managed PC (e.g. office Desktop), and, access the remote version on BYOD devices. (the Office 365 ProPlus license gives access on 5 devices for the same user. The RemoteApp version would count as one of the five devices).

All of the Office 365 flavors have OneDrive access included. It’s good to know that OneDrive can be added into Awingu also next to other file shares. As such, creating a blended end-user experience and file access cross-device and location.

Interested? Don’t hesitate and start your free Awingu trial today!

Sources

https://www.microsoft.com/en-us/microsoft-365/blog/2019/07/01/improving-office-app-experience-virtual-environments/
https://www.softwareone.com/en/blog/all-articles/2019/01/17/microsoft-office-365-proplus-on-windows-server-2019
https://products.office.com/en-us/compare-all-microsoft-office-products?&activetab=tab%3aprimaryr2
https://docs.microsoft.com/en-us/deployoffice/about-office-365-proplus-in-the-enterprise
https://www.nimbulus.co.uk/the-ultimate-office-365-faq/what-is-office-365/what-is-the-difference-between-office-365-business-and-office-365-proplus/
https://www.microsoft.com/en-us/licensing/licensing-programs/spla-program?activetab=spla-program%3aprimaryr2