The little-(un)known Secrets of using Office 365 ProPlus and Office 2019 on a Virtual Desktop environment - survival guide
The year 2018 started with rumors around RDmi and ended with Microsoft announcing Windows Virtual Desktop, releasing Windows 10 1809, and, perhaps most importantly, making important changes to how Office is delivered. This article will give you a clear view of the changes and what you can expect in 2019. Read more about Windows Virtual Desktop over here.
Besides this, Microsoft also announced changes in support for Office 2019 and Office 365 ProPlus on a Virtual Desktop environment. It’s maybe a good idea to write this down in an article to give you a clear view of what’s going on and what’s changes in the next versions.
“Change before you have to…”
This article will help you to understand what version you need to use in your environment – based on the Operating System that you’re using – so you know what to do proactively when you change to a complete Office 365 licensing model for your Office subscription-based licenses.
Note: This article applies to every Virtual Desktop solution that uses a Windows OS, such as Citrix, VMware, Nutanix Frame, Parallels, and CloudJumper.
Microsoft acquires FSLogix
First, let’s start with some good news! Most of you already know, but for the people who were offline in the last couple weeks, Microsoft bought FSLogix – the company that I currently work for. Our DigitalWorkspace vision now continues as part of Microsoft!
“Being part of this company was a great learning experience. The acquisition is the reward of doing awesome work as a team and having an exceptional product that addresses challenges in the most simple way possible, combined with excellent work from our supporting partners around the globe!” - Christiaan Brinkhoff
Read the complete – and official - announcement article here.
This acquisition takes place at a perfect moment, as Microsoft is changing the way of approaching Office for every Windows platform, and–obviously - for the release of the new Windows Virtual Desktop service on Azure!
FSLogix adds the following features to the Microsoft portfolio:
Outlook caching + Windows Search support
OneDrive for Business (and Files On-Demand)support
The reason why FSLogix supports OneDrive and Teams is the underlying technology. FSLogix Apps are using an advanced filter-driver technology, which lets the operating system think that there is no redirection active to a persistent container (VHDx) location. This approach makes it possible to use OneDrive and Teams, because those applications are too sensitive for roaming profile solutions.
Furthermore, the other change is leaving the volume licensing version of Office, which always came in very handy on non-persistent/stateless environment due to the activation of Office. For example, when a Virtual Machine reboots, the Office activation process could connect to an internal KMS server, which remembers the activation count based on the computer ID, and automatically activate Office each time.
Within Office 365 ProPlus, which is part of several different Office 365 E3 and above licenses, this isn’t possible anymore, so we need a new approach.
I’ll explain them later in the article. But first...
A closer look at the field
The following VDILIKEAPRO survey results show a 30% growth in Office 365 usage via Enterprise Agreement. Customers who leverage Office 365 services mostly have an E3 or higher license, so why should you buy them again simultaneously prior to KMS/Volume due to only MSI installation support for a non-persistent environment?
Microsoft changed the way of supporting Office for Windows 10 as well as Windows Server 2019. In my personal opinion, this will drive the adoption of the use of Office 365 ProPlus, which effectively means that this number within the graphic will increase even more next year!
The differences between Office 2019 and Office 365 ProPlus
As mentioned at the beginning of this article, Microsoft announced the change in Office support/release management at the Ignite Conference in September 2018. However, not everyone knows the differences between the versions, so I hope to give a good explanation of what the major differences are.
Office 2019 – is a perpetual based – annual term license – Click-to-Run (C2R) installer - includes Key Management Service (KMS) and Multiple Activation key (MAK) support
Office 365 ProPlus – is a – user-based - subscription licenses – Click-to-Run (C2R) installer - with user and shared computer activation (explain the complete process for Virtual Desktops later on in the article)
Microsoft will provide security and reliability patches for Office 2019, however, it will have no new features added to it. Office 365 ProPlus will get major and minor new features added to it on a weekly basis.
See below how the different versions apply to either Server and Desktop OS.
Keep in mind that Office 365 ProPlus is the way to go for future on-premises or Cloud Windows 10 Virtual Desktop implementations. And as well as Windows 10 Multi-User implementations as part of Windows Virtual Desktop on Azure!
Office 2019 is onlysupported on Windows Server 2019 RDS!
What previous Office version(s) will be supported in the future and what not?
Microsoft finally released the future of how we need to deal with Office on a Virtual Desktop environment in the future. Lots of rumors were saying that there wouldn’t be any supported for Office 2019 rather than Office 365 ProPlus on Windows Server 2019.
Interesting notes are:
Service products stay in sync with each other
Windows Virtual Desktop only supports Office 365 ProPlus
Office 365 ProPlus will always be supported with Windows 10 SAC
Office 365 ProPlus on Windows Server 2016 will be supported through October 2025
Office 2019 is only supported on Windows Server 2019
Windows Server 2019 doesn’t support Office 365 ProPlus
See below the future roadmap of all the other supported Microsoft Office versions (official Microsoft document).