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Integrate Microsoft 365 and Office 365 on Remote Desktops in the Cloud

If you’ve used or implemented Microsoft 365 you’ll know that (with the right plan) you can install local versions of Office and save documents to the cloud (OneDrive) which you or your colleagues can access with other installs of Microsoft 365 on other computers and other sites.

Or you can run a web version of Office via a browser.   So from a cloud computing point of view Office in Microsoft 365 ticks many of the boxes.

You’re also know that many applications are designed to work with Office. This may be an “Export to Excel” function, or populating letter templates in Word from data in your CRM system, to running Macros or VBA to fully integrate Office with other desktop software.   However, this can be where the cloud ethos breaks down.   While you can run Microsoft 365 from anywhere how can you also run your CRM, Accounting or Stock Control application alongside it?   The Internet isn’t yet quick enough to keep your database in OneDrive so inevitably you may end up being tied to the desktop to use your line of business application.

Microsoft 365 on Remote Desktops

Of course this isn’t a new problem. Long before the term “cloud” was coined, roaming and remote workers had the ability to run Office on their laptops but other applications that shared data were more challenging.

The solution is also not fundamentally new.   For a couple of decades large corporations have used Remote Desktop Services (RDS,) aka Terminal Services, to enable remote workers to run their line of business applications.   If you’re not aware of RDS it is simply using Windows servers based at a central site to run your applications.   The display output of the application is sent over the network and the keyboard and mouse clicks are sent back.   It’s a bit like having a 100 mile long monitor, keyboard and mouse cable.

For applications that interface/integrate with Office the solution was to also run Office on the remote desktop server or terminal server. As long as the users were on the corporate Wide Area Network (WAN) they could run their applications from any site.

Jump forward a few years and the improvements in Internet bandwidth and server virtualisation technology means that it is now easy to run remote desktops via the Internet and have them hosted by third party specialists like Your Office Anywhere which use economies of scale to provide this service to small business at very low cost.

Can you install Microsoft 365 and Office 365 on a Terminal Server?

So, joining all the dots, if you have a line of business application that integrates with Microsoft 365 is it possible to run Microsoft 365 Office apps on a remote desktop server or terminal server alongside other software so your business can fully enjoy the benefits of cloud computing?

The answer is, “Yes you can” but with a couple of complications.   Running Microsoft 365 Office apps on a remote desktop server has been restricted by Microsoft to only certain plans. Specifically Microsoft 365 Apps for Enterprise (formerly known as ProPlus) or plans which include this such as MS 365 Business Premium or Office 365 E3, E5, or Nonprofit E3 or E5.   There is a feature in the Enterprise plans called Shared Computer Activation (SCA) (click to view article).   Running Microsoft 365 Business Standard or Microsoft 365 Apps for Business on a remote desktop server won’t work, Office won’t activate.

Also, only certain certified third party hosting providers have been authorised by Microsoft to run Microsoft 365 on their terminal servers.   Your Office Anywhere is one of only a very small number of hosting providers in the UK certified to run Microsoft 365 Office apps on a terminal server (Shared Computer).

So, to summarise, it is now very easy to run any desktop software that integrates with Microsoft 365 Office applications in the cloud and access it from anywhere over the internet and on any device, and at the same time remove the need for onsite IT server infrastructure.

Get help with Your Microsoft 365

Visit our Microsoft Office Hosting page to read more about our service.  Alternatively use the contact form below for a quick response, or call us on 01282 500 318.

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