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How does Office 365 VDI licensing work in nonpersistent deployments?

Setting up Office 365 generally involves multiple devices. With nonpersistent VDI, the rules of the game change for IT admins.

Microsoft Office 365 subscriptions that include Microsoft Office Professional Plus generally allow each user to install Office on up to five devices. This concept may seem straightforward, but the usual rules do not apply to nonpersistent Office 365 VDI deployments.

Under normal circumstances, the Office 365 installation process requires administrators to log in to Office 365 and choose the option to install Office on the device. This approach does not work for nonpersistent VDI because Office is not licensed for shared use.

A nonpersistent VDI deployment is a virtual desktop deployment in which users are not assigned to a dedicated virtual machine. Instead, users are assigned a random virtual desktop from a pool of available desktops each time they log in.

Microsoft treats nonpersistent VDI deployments the same way it treats shared physical computers: the device itself consumes a license, not each user who works on the device. With Office 365 VDI licensing, each copy of Microsoft Office does not count against a specific user's five device limit because the virtual desktop does not belong to one specific user. Essentially, Office 365 VDI licensing is a per-device model rather than per user where the device is the virtual desktop.

To use this licensing model, IT has to install Office 365 ProPlus in Shared Computer Activation mode, which has a shared use license so multiple users can work with Office on the same virtual desktop. To do so, admins must use the Office Deployment Tool

How to install the Office Deployment Tool

Open an administrative Command Prompt window, navigate to the Office Deployment Tool folder -- sometimes C:\ODT -- then run the following command:

Setup.exe /download configuration.xml

Once the download process completes, edit the Configuration.xml file. This file controls the various Office 365 ProPlus installation options, so administrators should use it to make any changes that are specifically applicable to their organizations. Next, add the following lines to the file if they do not already exist. If these lines do exist, edit them to match what is shown below, and make sure to remove the comment markers:

<Display Level="None" AcceptEULA="True" />

<Property Name="SharedComputerLicensing" Value="1" />

Now install Office onto the nonpersistent virtual desktop with this command:

Setup.exe /configure configuration.xml

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