A huge benefit to being in the cloud with Microsoft 365 is having the flexibility to provide employees working across different roles and locations with the latest features and updates—a critical task for any IT organization. That’s why we’re excited to announce two new features for Microsoft 365 Apps for enterprise—extended offline access and device-based subscriptions—that remove critical blockers and enable customers to deploy Microsoft 365 across their entire environment, streamlining deployment and administration. These capabilities will help you ensure that employees who are offline for months at a time or rely on shared devices and workstations can benefit from the same user experience and stay productive and secure no matter where they’re working.
To ensure Microsoft 365 Apps stays up to date, devices must connect to the internet at least once every 30 days. However, we’re aware that in industries, including government, oil and gas, manufacturing, agriculture, and scientific research, some people work in secure or remote environments where they have limited or no internet connectivity for longer periods of time.
To address this, we’re now providing extended offline access* to enable devices to stay activated without connecting to the internet for up to 180 days. Workers in secure or remote environments who are offline for long periods of time can continue using Microsoft 365 Apps to stay productive on-the-job without worrying about being cut off from the tools they need most after 30 days.
For organizations with workers who need to run Microsoft 365 Apps offline for an extended period, IT administrators can enable extended offline access when they install Microsoft 365 Apps on a device. The worker signs into Windows with their Microsoft 365 account by viewing the expiration date that appears in a Product Information window on their device. After that, the worker can continue using Office with no internet for up to 180 days. Fifteen (15) days before offline access expires, they will receive an in-app notification. At that point, the worker can either reconnect the device to the internet before the expiration date or the IT administrator can generate a license in the Office portal from a second, connected device and copy the license to the other device.
For organizations, whose employees are mostly information workers, user-based licensing for Microsoft 365 covers most use case scenarios. But for organizations in industries, such as manufacturing, agriculture, healthcare, retail and hospitality, many employees may share one device. In those cases, users that rely on shared devices have not been able to have access to the latest and most secure productivity tools that are available on desktop, to address this scenario we’re introducing device-based subscriptions for Microsoft 365 Apps.
Having device-based subscriptions for Microsoft 365 Apps enables you to extend coverage to commonly used devices on loading docks, at nurses’ stations, on the manufacturing floor, or in a breakroom. Because the license is assigned to the device, workers aren’t required to have their own Azure Active Directory identity. Workers can sign into the device as many times as needed and access all Microsoft 365 Apps, including Excel, OneNote, Outlook, PowerPoint, Publisher, and Word.
To deploy a device-based subscription, you simply purchase the required number of Microsoft 365 licenses and assign a license to a device group in the Microsoft 365 admin center. To enable this functionality on a device, use the group policy for currently installed devices and/or the configuration.xml attribute.
Learn more about device-based licensing for Microsoft 365 Apps for enterprise here.
*Eligible customers should contact their Microsoft account representative to determine if extended offline access for Microsoft 365 Apps for enterprise is the right solution for them.
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