Licensing desktop applications with RDS – Licensing Brief

There’s an updated (April 2020) Licensing Brief detailing how to license the desktop applications with RDS. The main change is to include the October 2019 changes to the licensing terms for Outsourcing Software Management which affect customers choosing to host Office applications on a dedicated server.

Find this updated Licensing Brief here:

Licensing FSLogix

Microsoft acquired FSLogix in November 2018 to extend their desktop and app virtualisation capabilities ( and with the arrival of the Windows Virtual Desktop public preview they confirmed that FSLogix technologies enable faster load times for non-persistent users accessing Outlook or OneDrive, and that both client and server RDS deployments will be supported (

The June 2019 Product Terms adds text confirming that users licensed for Microsoft 365 Business, F1, E3 and E5, Windows E3 and E5, and VDA E3 and E5 may use FSLogix software (page 43), as may users licensed with RDS CALs or SLs (page 47).

Find the Product Terms here:

Shared Computer Activation available for Microsoft 365 Business

Microsoft announce that Shared Computer Activation will be available for Office 365 Business when it’s acquired as part of a Microsoft 365 Business licence.

A Microsoft 365 Business User SL only allows the installation of Office 365 Business on up to 5 PCs, but with SCA enabled a user may access Office 365 Business running (for example) in an RDS environment and it doesn’t count against that 5 PC limit. The roll out of SCA for Microsoft 365 Business customers began on 30 April, 2019 and is expected to take a couple of months.

Find the announcement here:

Windows Virtual Desktop Public Preview

Microsoft announce that Windows Virtual Desktop is now in public preview.

This new Azure service will allow customers to run Windows 7, Windows 10 or Windows Server desktops and provide free Extended Security Updates for customers choosing Windows 7.

Customers will already be licensed for the client desktops if they have Microsoft 365 F1/E3/E5, Windows 10 E3/E5 or Windows VDA licences, and for Windows Server desktops if they’ve got RDS CALs. Reserved Instances may also be used to optimise costs for the infrastructure.

This site ( has all the information as well as a video that gives an excellent overview of the service.

Remote Desktop Services VL Brief

There’s a new (May 2017) Remote Desktop Services VL Brief from Microsoft. It replaces separate briefs on server and desktop licensing considerations for RDS. Use it to understand when RDS CALs are required and what might catch you out in licensing Office in an RDS environment.

Find it in the Core Infrastructure section of our Licensing Guides emporium:

Extension to RDS rights date

Native RDS support for Office 365 ProPlus arrived in September 2014 meaning that Office 365 ProPlus could be installed in an RDS environment – previously, customers were given a right to use corresponding Office 2013 Volume Licensing media to make this work.

In September, customers were given until 31 August 2015 to make the change to the Office 365 ProPlus software, but page 57 of the August 2015 Product Terms document extends this date to 31 March 2016.

Overview of the Changes to the January 2014 Volume Licensing Product Use Rights

It’s Online Services and SA benefits that share the headlines as the key changes in the PUR this quarter. For Online Services the big news is that ALL of the use rights for these products have been moved into the Online Services Use Rights document. This is known as the OLSUR (how DO you say that?) and we’ll focus on the useful information you can find there in a later blog post.

As far as SA benefits go, let’s start with the Extended Rights that have been added to the Remote Desktop Services CAL, detailed on page 69 onwards. These new rights apply to the User CAL only and essentially allow organisations with SA on an RDS CAL to access session-based desktops running on a third party’s shared servers – either through a “Licence Mobility through Software Assurance Partner” or making use of Windows Azure Platform Services. There’s confirmation that access is still allowed to an organisation’s own servers, and a very specific note that these rights do NOT allow access to VDI desktops running on the third party’s shared servers. Customers need to complete and submit a Licence Mobility Validation form to designate their third party of choice and there are instructions for this process too.

There’s a name change for another benefit – “Cold” Disaster Recovery Rights are now just Disaster Recovery Rights on page 70. Previous wording specified that the server must be turned off except for testing, patch management and disaster recovery. Now the emphasis is on when the Disaster Recovery server (or OSE) can run – DR testing for a week every 90 days, while the production server being recovered is down, and during the transfer to the DR server.

And the final change is around some wording in the Licence Mobility through Software Assurance section on page 70 onwards. There’s black and white clarification added that if you’re using System Center on your own servers to manage OSEs running in a third party’s shared servers or running System Center there to manage your own servers, then you absolutely need active SA on your Server Management Licences.

And, just for completeness, we say our final goodbyes to the GeoSynth and Vexcel products, as well as Expression Encoder Pro 4 and Groove Server 2010, and references to Team Foundation Service are updated to Visual Studio Online.

Azure Virtual Machines and RDS

Wording added to the July 2013 PUR (page 88) about using Remote Desktop Services with Windows Azure Virtual Machines (although expect more changes next year):

  • RDS Subscriber Access Licences purchased through SPLA MAY be used to deliver graphical user interface functionality on Windows Azure virtual machines
  • RDS CALs purchased through Volume Licensing programs may NOT be used with Windows Azure virtual machines
  • Virtual Desktop Infrastructure functionality may NOT be used on Windows Azure virtual machines