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Microsoft Adds App Sharing Feature to Office 365 ProPlus

Microsoft recently added a "shared computer activation" feature for Office 365 business subscribers, making it possible to share a computer or a virtual machine with Office 365 solutions among multiple users.

The shared computer activation feature is notable for organizations that don't necessarily provide dedicated machines for each end user. That feature is available across all of Microsoft's product offerings with regard to "Office 365 ProPlus, Project Pro for Office 365, or Visio Pro for Office 365," according to Microsoft's announcement last week.

Office 365 ProPlus is Microsoft's productivity suite of applications that's offered as part of a monthly subscription plan with a one-year commitment. It includes applications such as Excel, Outlook, PowerPoint and Word that are licensed on a per-user basis. That per-user licensing permits the Office 365 apps to be installed on up to five PCs, Macs or mobile devices.

Microsoft envisions its shared computer activation feature as something that might be used by organizations that share computers via pooled virtual desktop infrastructure technology, allowing multiple users to connect to the same computer. Examples of such organizations might include hospitals, factories and call centers. One of Microsoft's hang-ups in rolling out this shared computer activation feature, until this month, had been getting it to work with Remote Desktop Services on Windows Server 2008 R2, Microsoft had explained back in May.

The shared computer activation feature installs bits via Microsoft's streaming "click-to-run" technology. The installations are based on the individual user's licensing rights, rather than based on the particular machine's update requirements. The system works by activating a licensing token for each individual user on a particular machine. Microsoft's announcement explained that "deploying Office 365 ProPlus using shared computer activation does not count against a user's five total installations of Office 365 ProPlus or Office for Mac."

The shared computer activation feature gets turned on by IT pros via the Office Deployment Tool, which is Microsoft's Office 365 management solution for IT pros. The Office Deployment Tool provides a means for controlling the click-to-run update technology and deployment configurations. Another requirement for using the shared computer activation feature is having installed "version 15.0.4631.1002" or greater of Office 365 ProPlus, which Microsoft released back in July.

An overview of the shared computer activation feature is described in this Office 365 library article. It's also possible now to deploy Office 365 ProPlus using Remote Desktop Services for organizations using Windows Server 2008 R2, Windows Server 2012 or Windows Server 2012 R2, as Microsoft describes in this article.

About the Author

Kurt Mackie is senior news producer for the 1105 Enterprise Computing Group.

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