Installing Office365 ProPlus on a RDS Server (Terminal Server) using Shared Computer Activation

Microsoft have announced the ability to run Office 365 ProPlus on a RDS Server using a new feature called Shared Computer Activation. For more details of this feature, read the blog here –

UPDATE (7/1/2015): Some of your most common questions regarding this topic are answered by the Office Garage Series team here –

  • How do I use shared computer activation and what do I need to download or enable in Office 365?
  • I’m a small business or bought Office 365 directly or via a 3rd party. Can I use shared computer activation if I don’t have Volume Licensing versions of Office?
  • Can I use Office 365 ProPlus with shared computer activation in my standard image? What if some people don’t have Office 365 ProPlus rights on those PCs?
  • Will shared computer activation work with Citrix XenApp, Azure RemoteApp or similar remoting solutions?
  • Can I replace normal, user-based subscription activation completely with shared computer Activation? Are there any disadvantages?

Here is a walkthrough on how to implement this.

  1. Download the Office Deployment Tool for Click-to-Run here –


  2. Run and extract the tool to a folder on your RDS.

  1. Edit and configure the configuration XML file as follows: (please see the comments below regarding copying and pasting this to a Notepad program)


    <Add SourcePath=”\\SERVER\SHARE\” OfficeClientEdition=”32″ >

    <Product ID=”O365ProPlusRetail”>

    <Language ID=”en-us” />



    <Display Level=”None” AcceptEULA=”True” />

    <Property Name=”SharedComputerLicensing” Value=”1″ />


    **NOTE: Edit and configure the \\SERVER\SHARE path


  2. From an elevated Command Prompt, run Setup to download the installation files.

    Setup.exe /download configuration.xml

    ***NOTE: Add location paths as needed

    The Office365 ProPlus installation files will be downloaded to the specified share with the following structure.


  3. From an elevated Command Prompt, run Setup to install Office Click-to-Run.

    Setup.exe /configure configuration.xml

    When the installation is complete, the Office 2013 suite will be available for use.


  4. On starting the application, you will be prompted to Activate Office. Click Next and Sign in.


  5. Once signed in, you are ready to go. Office will automatically activate and configure the applications.


For more information, head on to the following 2 MS Technet articles.



83 thoughts on “Installing Office365 ProPlus on a RDS Server (Terminal Server) using Shared Computer Activation”

  1. Hi

    Does this count as an activation for each user? If so, what if they connect to a multi-rds setup, will each server be an activation?

    1. The Click to Run feature is designed to install a small file. Once it is run, it will determine what other files are needed and will download the necessary files automatically. There is no “full product” for the Office 365 Pro Plus installation.

  2. Can I do something similar to this to allow me to use a retail version of Office 2013 H&B on a terminal server?
    Thank you for your great work.

  3. it appears the download when well, but when I run the /configure configuration.xml, an Office window pops up with the error “Couldn’t install” Is your internet working? Do you have enough free space on your main hard drive?”

    Any ideas?

    1. I had the same thing happen on the first try, I copy/pasted the configuration.xml text above and had to go back and edit the quotations ” some of them came across as ” or ″ which were unrecognized characters.

  4. I followed all steps, but when I ran the setup.exe /configure command, It just hanged. In task manager, I see click-to-run is running, but using no cpu, and no change in memory. It has been sitting for almost an hour now. Any suggestions or ideas?

    1. I can only suggest:
      1. Wait at least 1-2 hours (just in case).
      2. Terminate and restart the server before trying this.
      3. Connect as an Administrator, and run this from an elevated command prompt.

  5. When you edit the configuration XML beware of the difference
    between ″ (ASCII 128) and ” (ASCII 034)
    in the code above it’s mixed.
    So if you just cut and past……
    Should be ” (ASCII 034) an nothing else….

  6. Yeah, this really just doesn’t work at all. Or there needs to be better instructions if we’re missing something. I run /install and it sits forever doing nothing, and I run /configure and “Couldn’t install” is all it ever does. How do I debug this? I have plenty of space and no firewall.

    1. I have tested this a few times. It should work. I would suggest trying a different DNS server (ie, use Google, or if you are already using this, then try using your ISP’s DNS). There was a recent issue noted about using Google’s DNS, but I found the opposite of that with a local AU provider.

    2. Persistence paid off, O365 is running on RDS on Server 2012:

      I initially had the same problem as Josh “Couldn’t install” Is your internet working”Do you have enough free space on your main hard drive?” This was resolved by partly following instruction from BoonTee, WAIT, RESTART. But it eventually went through on the 5th or 6th time, I am sure it it just related to internet access, check that you can actually browse the internet from the server, check DNS as well as per BoonTee, change your internet connection type if you have the option.

      I also had the issue Matte is referring to, it is important that you use a valid XML file, especially the “. Copying and pasting from the internet does not always work.

      Thank you everyone.

      1. Great news, Karel.
        What I have learnt to do when copying code from the internet is to copy and paste into notepad first. Then reformat and copy it to the desired location. In this case, I could copy the text into notepad, then reformat the lines and then save as XML file.

        1. I had a hard time getting the tool to download, with instant prompts of couldn’t install. I even contacted Microsoft support who spent hours trying to fix it.

          What finally solved the issue was removing SourcePath=”\\SERVER\SHARE\” from the configuration. Running .\setup.exe /download .\configuration.xml then created a folder called Office in the same folder as setup.exe where it downloaded the installation files.

          1. Thanks Olav, I also needed to do this.

            Was trying to install thru network UNC path. Just kept coming up with the not enough space error.

            I removed a 2nd internal NIC with I thought might be causing issue.

            Tested internet connectivity.

            Multiple restarts on the computer.

            Nothing worked.
            All logging as administrator, elevated CMD etc.

            In the end, just copied my install from share to local, update path and it has installed straight away.

            Would like to find out a “proper” fix for this as would much pretty not to have to do this for future deployments.

          2. Might be a simple thing, but have you checked the share permissions? (not the NTFS permissions on the share).

          3. For some reason Boon, the reply option isn’t coming up on your comment. Not sure why.

            Everything from security looked okay. I deployed using the same setup without the “shared users” configuration for all the workstations so share permissions should be fine.

            Full network admin running

  7. Just replace all of the quotes that look like this ” with normal straight quotes ”
    Copying and pasting makes them into the curled quotes even in notepad. I just deleted and keyed them in and everything worked and installed to the share.

  8. Roger, thanks a million for pointing out something I overlooked.

    I too followed Olav’s suggestion and still had an issue until I took a close look and replaced all of the quotes as Roger pointed out.

  9. Do the following:
    \\server\x\setup.exe /download \\server\x\configuration.xml

    You need to change the language ID if you dont want it to be in swedish, also change the SourcePath to match wherever you want it.
    Note that your windows deployment tool and .xml file needs to be in the same folder as your sourcepath.

    This will download Office 365 to a folder in the sourcepath called Office with everything it needs to install.

    You can use the same .xml unless you want to remove programmes or add elements.

    After that you only need to write the following in a cmd or in whatever you use.

    \\server\x\setup.exe /configure \\server\x\configuration.xml

    The above command will install office365 on the computer you are writing the command on.

  10. I am having the same issue “Is your internet connection working? Do you have enough free space on your main hard drive?

    Confirmed internet is working, tried google’s DNS server – still no go.

    Any ideas?

    1. @Alex, you might want to check the syntax and/or characters of your configuration.xml. Had a few issues there myself.

      The supplied sample configuration.xml worked fine but my own failed, turned out to be an ANSI/Unicode issue with the quotes when copying the sample above to a new file.

  11. The quotation marks in this are using the wrong ANSI. I recommend using the packaged MS one that comes with the deployment tool and just changing \\SERVER\SHARE\ for your own location.

    The couldn’t install error had me puzzled overnight, but checking the XML file over the next day I noticed the quotation marks had been replaced by question marks and was throwing the install off.

    If you get the “Couldn’t install” error check your XML file against the pre-packaged one from the Deployment tool. The whole thing installs in seconds once it is done properly.

  12. I tried for several hours one day and could not get this to work. Finally I used Notepad++ instead of Notepad. I then changed the curly quotes to standard quotes, and removed all the commented out text. It worked, or at least it is downloading currently.

    I wanted to set the display level to Full so I could see what was happening, but the time it actually worked I had it set to None.

    Thanks for this great post. It was very helpful, especially the comments from readers about the formatting.

    1. Apologies to all re the quotes issue. I’ve been trying to fix this on the site, but this WordPress platform appears to be somewhat limited.

  13. I followed Olav’s workaround and it downloaded (thanks Olav). I then ran it with the configure switch and installed but when I try to use with my account it says you can’t use this version with terminal services?

      1. Thanks Nat, I tried again last night and realised I had left a line out of the config file. No need to uninstall, just re-run setup with the new config file.

  14. Hi BoonTee, many thanks to you and the others for this process and the useful comments. I also am having the “Couldn’t Install” issue.

    I’ve spun up a Win 2012 R2 server under Azure and have deployed RDS and am trying to install Office365 for shared activation.

    I’ve downloaded the Office Deployment Tool and edited the config file, changing \\SERVER\SHARE\ literally by removing the quotes and inserting C:\Users\(user_name)\Downloads\office deployment tool\

    Running setup.exe /download worked OK, taking a few minutes to download the files.

    However running setup.exe /config configuration.xml just brings up “Couldn’t Install”.

    I’ve checked CMD has admnin rights, changed the DNS to and can see the internet, and restarted the server. No go.

    Ideas please? And many thanks.

  15. OK, got a bit further. After editing configuration.xml to below and then again running setup.exe /download I am now waiting on result from setup.exe /config to complete.

    My configuration.xml is:

    <Add SourcePath="\office deployment tool\” OfficeClientEdition=”32″ >

    <Logging Level="Standard" Path="\office deployment tool\” />

  16. Hi,

    I have a customer who’s attempting to deploy Office 2013 Pro Plus, aquired via the Office 365 E4 License, on a WMWare server.

    The installation works, but upon the end-users login, and application launches, they are prompted for activation.
    They provide their O365 credentials, and the products seemingly activates.

    But then 2 minutes passes, and they get an Error ! and are prompted yet again for the activation process.
    Have anyone here experienced this? Or know how to fix it?



          1. Is there any limitations regarding WMWare servers, that other Terminalservers doesn’t have?

            I’m beginning to think that perhaps the issue is related to this being a WMWare server.

          2. WMWare? I have never heard of that sorry.

            Unless you are talking about VMware?

            And yes that code I would assume would only work on MS RDS servers. (But if they are virtualised on VMware that should be fine, but dont know anything about WMWare)

    1. Caj,

      Were you ever able to find a solution to this? I have the same issue with users and the activation popping up for each program every time they try to use one. Funny enough, I have no problem on my login, only the users.

      I set a user to global admin and local admin, same as my rights, still gets the activation prompt. With multiple RDS sessions going, I am fine and users are still prompted, so not an internet unreachable problem.

      Thanks for any help,

  17. I’ve installed Office 365 per the instructions above. Everything works fine. Installed on Windows Server 2012 Rs Standard. When I try to open any of the programs it says:

    “Sorry, we are having temporary server issues. ”

    I’m given the choice to Try Again or Cancel. Try Again is just an endless loop the above error. Canceling says:

    “Microsoft Office can’t find your license for this application. A repair attempt was unsuccessful or was cancelled. Microsoft Office Will Now Exit”

    1. Did you sign in with the correct credentials. You need to select Organisational Account to log in using the Office 365 credentials, not Microsoft Account.

  18. Thanks I could do this 1 month ago, but i was a prblem with my server and i had to restore my server to a before point and then the office didn t work , i tried to reinstall and then … Office couldn t install, i tried with the fix in office that must clean all but it was impossible
    Some idea ?

    Thanks again

  19. Hi, i did have the couldn’t install problem, i got i to work on one server and i used the same xml file. But since i needed to change something in that xml file it didnt work anymore. I installed XML Notepad 2007 from Microsoft and opened the file and then i see whats wrong and after i save it its ok. So if someone got the Couldn’t install error, check the XML file with some XML software (like XML Notepad 2007 for MS). it could look ok in notepad and when using type in cmd, but there could still be something wrong with it.

  20. Hi All,
    Followed all steps and watched the video. Tried to install office 365 pro plus on a MS 2012 R2 running RDS as outlined in this, “how to”. Issue we have after suppling our office 365 credentials is: “This copy of Microsoft Office 2013 cannot be used on a computer running Terminal Services. To use Office 2013 on a computer running Terminal Services, you must use a Volume License edition of Office”

    Also if I’m running 2012 R2 with the latest office why is it referring to RDS as Terminal services and not RDS? 🙂


      1. I have just done another install using the above technique, and it worked properly. There was one issue, as most people have experienced – the “Couldn’t Install” problem.
        This has been solved by some of the other users above. In the configuration.xml file, change \\Server\Share\ to a local drive – like C:\OfficeProPlus\
        Worked immediately.

      2. Hi Steve,

        The shared activation registry setting has not been written to the registry properly or at all, only needs to be added once for everyone.


        SharedComputerLicensing with a setting of 1

        Hope that helps,

        1. Legend.
          Thanks Rod – SharedComputerLicensing was missing after running a repair on Office (on Azure).
          Added in as per note and problem solved.
          I owe you a beer.

  21. You should put your text in for the quotes to stay right.

    I also got the 'Could'nt install' error multiple times.
    In my firewall i then disabled HTTP scanning and unblocked some P2P things and the next time it started working.

    Also, the Sourcepath is optional so you can remove that.
    My config file looks like this:

  22. Thanks for the very informative guide – using this I got Office365 ProPlus installed and running (via a trial account) with no issues.

    My question, as stupid as it sounds, is – as I need a package that includes Office 365 ProPlus as part of it in order to use Shared Computer Activation, can I just use the actual Office 365 ProPlus package offered by MS here?

    It would seem obvious, but every source I’ve read online is telling me that I need a package that contains ProPlus, and that these packages START with the E3 package. Very confusing!

    1. Yes, you need to subscribe to an Office 365 package that includes Office Pro Plus IN THE ENTERPRISE SKUs.
      Have a look at the following –

      Somewhere towards the bottom of the page, you will see that only the Enterprise E3 plan allows for Shared Computer Activation.
      Alternatively, you can purchase the Office 365 Business or Business Premium plans and separately purchase Office 365 ProPlus. If you do this, you may as well purchase the Enterprise E3 plan anyway, as it will be cheaper.

  23. Hi Guys,

    The installation works just fine.

    What about the Office updates under this scenario?

    The “Update Now” option doesn’t seem to work.

    Do we have to repeat the installation process but with the newest CAB files instead?


  24. If you are editing the config file that comes with the package make sure to do the following. This was my issue with the downloading but not installing problem.

    Anything between comment marks will not run. So first remove the comment marks around Add SourcePath and the trailing

  25. Anything between comment marks !– — will not run. So first remove the comment marks around Add SourcePath and the trailing Add

  26. Hello,
    thank you for a nice guide. I was almost lost in that MS library… “Want to do this? click here…” at the end I had more than 15 webpages opened and no relevant clue, how to do this.

    – Copy & paste code did not worked here, so I had to rewrite it completely.

  27. I had the same issue with the failed installs

    1. Disbale Windows Firewall
    2. Make sure UAC is disabled

    Created new folder on C: called temp
    DIR: c:\temp

    XML file details below

    Once you have placed this XML in the same folder as the setup

    Open CMD in Admin mode
    CD c:\temp
    Setup.exe /download configuration.xml

    IT will download the files (this will be around a1 gb)
    Once completed
    setup.exe /configure configuration.xml

    Wait like 10-15 min for install

    Enjoy Guys

    I am sure you can change the dirs around however this is what worked for me.

  28. OK, had an issue with this not working. I followed the guide to the T and still didn’t work, was wondering why also as ive done this many times before and its worked fine.

    If you cannot get to install try renaming (office 2016) Office\Data\ > Office\Data\

    Once I renamed this my installation started, found this from searching the log output. To enable logging put this into you configuration.xml

  29. FYI Executing this deployment from and RDS server via Powershell, the command to begin the “setup” is .\setup.exe /download configuration.xml works brilliantly. Thanks Boontee.

  30. Hi Team, We have installed it fine and it is working however once we validate the O365 User we get an error saying:

    This copy of Microsoft Office 2016 cannot be used on a computer running Terminal Services.

    To use Office 2016 on a computer running Terminal Services, you must use a Volume License Edition of Office.

    Anybody with suggestions please?

    1. On a Terminal Server, you must have Office 365 E3 or higher. The Office 365 Business plans cannot be used on a RDS server.

  31. Hi BoonTee,

    followed your guide a while ago and got the office package installed fine on my main work server that i have RDP applications installed on.

    My issue is, generally once a week a certain user who goes to email out PDF invoices calls me as i need to activate office. what would be causing this to happen? I have to activate with the E3 office email address and password every week without fail


    1. Hi Peter – did you ever resolve this? I am facing the same issue with Users having to ‘Activate Office’ every couple of days.

    2. Peter did you find a fix for this ? As I have it happening every few weeks since the 2016 version. Was fine on the 2013 version

  32. From tecklyfe Robert Russell:

    Recently I was trying to install an additional Microsoft Office application, which was a 64-bit version of Microsoft Project. I had the Microsoft Office 365 click-to-run 64-bit version installed, but apparently it also installed the 32-bit version of the “Office 15 Click-To-Run Extensibility Component”. When trying to install Microsoft Project, I got the error: Please uninstall all 32-bit Office programs – Office 16 Click-to-Run Extensibility Component.

    To resolve this issue, try the following steps:
    – Go to Start > Run (or Winkey + R)
    – Type “installer” (that opens the %windir%installer folder), make sure all files are visible in Windows (Folder Settings)
    – Add the column “Subject” (and make it at least 400 pixels wide) – Right click on the column headers, click More, then find Subject
    – Sort on the Subject column and scroll down until you locate the name mentioned in your error screen (“Office 15 Click-to-Run Extensibility Component”)
    – Right click the MSI and choose uninstall

  33. Thanks , I’ve recently been searching for information approximately this
    topic for a while and yours is the best I’ve discovered so far.

  34. does anyone have any suggestions for the error that follows : “Cannot run this version” when i have a version that should be able to run on my terminal server. Help!

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