Product Licensing HighLight – Licensing Microsoft Office in a Terminal Server or Citrix Environment


Well I have spent the last few days at the Windows 2008/VS2008 and SQL2008 Launch in Birmingham, it was truly an excellent experience for me and I hope for the circa 3000 IT Pro and developers who joined us there – see the launch action here

I "manned" the Ask The Expert booth in the Exhibition hall and had many many visitors wanting to talk about many aspects of Licensing…yippee

The most common request of the day was by far Terminal Services, so, as a promise to all of you, I have decided to cover Application Licensing in a Terminal Server environment

Lets start at the very beginning

You need a Windows Server License with TS switched on, once switched on, you need TS CALs, we have various "equivalency", "transition" depending on the version of desktop OS and version of Win Server, I will cover this detail off in another blog as its more than is required here

Lets assume that you have Windows 2008 Server with TS enabled and Office Pro Plus 2007 on the server

Each Device and/or user connecting and accessing the service of the Win Server needs a Windows 2008 CAL AND a Windows 2008 TS CAL

If you want to permit external non-employee access to your TS Server, your choice is Win and TS CALs OR Win and TS External Connector – choice is based on cost/compliancy

The above covers the server licensing, and the client licensing, now to the Office licensing

Office is licensed per Device, placing it on a TS or Citrix server does not change this licensing model, there is no pooling, no sharing and no concurrency

Each and every device connecting, accessing or potentially accessing the Office over TS needs an Office license assigned, there are a few very important factors to consider when deciding on the office install at the TS end, the Product, components, language and version must match the office assigned to the devices, as below

  • Product (or edition): Office Standard 2007 and Office Professional Plus 2007 are different products (or editions). A desktop licensed for Office Standard may not remotely access and use Office Professional Plus 2007.
  • Components: A license for a suite (e.g., Office) for the accessing desktop must have exactly the same components as the copy of Office being remotely accessed.
  • Language: The English/Multilanguage version of Office may not be accessed remotely from a desktop which is licensed for a single language version of Office. Likewise, remote access to a licensed copy of Office Multi-Language Pack 2007 requires the accessing desktop be licensed for the Office Multi-Language Pack 2007.
  • Version: Microsoft Office 2003 and Microsoft Office 2007 are different versions. You may not remotely access Microsoft Office 2007 from a desktop that is licensed for Microsoft Office 2003

You can have Office Pro 2003 on the TS and permit access from Office Pro 2003, Office Pro 2007, Office Enterprise 2007, HUP and FPP Office Ultimate but you cannot have Office Pro 2007 on the TS Server and permit access from Office Pro 2003!!!, it must be Office Pro 2007 or Office Enterprise 2007, HUP or FPP Office Ultimate

Take a few examples, as below:

Scenario 1:

A customer has 50 Windows-based desktops in a call center and would like to use Office on all these. Two servers running Windows Server Terminal Services support use of Office on these desktops. The customer will need to acquire 50 Office licenses—one for each desktop that will access Office on the servers. Even if a desktop is expected to use Office infrequently, the customer will still need to acquire and assign an Office license to that desktop. If 20 of these desktops will never use Office, then the customer will only need to acquire 30 Office licenses. In addition, the customer will need TS CALs and Windows CALs for each device or user and one or more Windows Server licenses for each server.


Scenario 2:

A customer has 100 Windows-based desktops in a call center and would like to use Office on all of them using Terminal Services. The workers who sit at these desktops work in three eight-hour shifts, so the 100 desktops support 300 workers. Whenever a shift change takes place, the current worker closes Office and logs off of the server in order for a new worker to log on and to begin running Office. The customer will need to acquire 100 Office licenses—one for each desktop from which Office is used. Windows Server licenses and Windows and TS CALs are also required. Device based CALs may be the right option when the users outnumber the devices.Note: The number of desktops, and not the number of workers, is important to this licensing scenario.


Scenario 3:

A customer has 40 Windows-based desktops and 30 employees who will use Office on all 40 desktops. The customer will need to acquire 40 Office licenses. This is consistent with the per device licensing policy.


Scenario 4:

A customer has portable desktops (i.e. laptop computers) that already have Office licensed and installed on them. (These portable desktops may be licensed individually or may be licensed under the secondary install rights – e.g., in cases where an employee has both desktop and laptop – the analysis is the same.) The users of these portable desktops occasionally connect to a server running Windows Server Terminal Services to access Office remotely while they are using a dial up or broadband connection. The customer does not need to acquire any more Office licenses as long the portable desktops are licensed for the edition, language and version of Office being accessed. For both the licensed desktop and the secondary portable desktop, Office may be used locally or accessed remotely using Terminal Services or similar functionality.

Note: Do not deploy and use Office with Windows Server Terminal Services with the expectation to just count and license the greatest number of desktops from which Office will be accessed at any one time. Office licenses may not be shared or used concurrently for different desktops. Even if you have fewer sessions active at any given time than the overall number of desktops from which you access the software, you must still count all of the desktops. Every desktop must have a license regardless of whether it is used at any given point in time.


Scenario 5:

A customer has 50 Windows-based desktops in a call center. All desktops will use Office on a recurring basis, but only 25 desktops will ever use Office at any given time. The customer will still need to acquire 50 Office licenses. Microsoft desktop applications require any desktop from or on which Office is accessed or used be licensed regardless of the number of desktops using the software simultaneously. Microsoft desktop application licenses cannot be used concurrently (shared across multiple desktops simultaneously or assigned to more than one desktop).


Scenario 6:

Company employees remotely access a corporate network from home, using desktops that they own. While dialed in, the employees use Terminal Services to access Office on a corporate-owned server. An Office license for the version of Office running on the server is required for the home desktop in this scenario. The company can enable this scenario by purchasing Work At Home (WAH) Licenses for the employees’ home desktops. Customers with active Software Assurance can also acquire Home Use Program (HUP) licenses for their employees’ home desktops.


Did you know – with the release of Office 2007, only Volume Licensing, Work at home and Home Use Program Office can be used on a TS, OEM and FPP are not permitted for use on a TS environment

Did you know – The 1 Office license covers local install on the licensed device AND access to the Office on the TS

Did you know – If you have purchased OEM Office <90days ago, and now need to deploy over TS, attach SA giving them the same rights as volume licensing and permitting use on a TS


OEM Office is not permitted for use on a TS environment this is prohibited in the EULA

Office 2007 ULTIMATE FPP can be used on a TS environment, FPP prior to Office 2007 CAN be used on a TS environment


Windows 2000 Equivalency and Windows 2003 transition next time…….



  1. FYI Claire
    Hi Claire
    In relation to your Q on Project 2000 rules around Portable Use rights, see below

    General. For each license acquired, you may install and use one copy of the Software, any component product of the Software, and any prior version of the Software or any component on a single computer, device, workstation, terminal, or other digital electronic or analog device (“Device”). 
    For each license acquired, you may make a second copy of the Software and install it on a portable Device for the exclusive use of the person who is the primary user of the first copy of the Software. 

  2. FYI Diego
    Hi Diego
    HUP Office is Home Use Programme Office, it is FPP media, it is linked to having Software Assurance coverage on a company desktop that is assigned to you
    I think you may be getting HUP and Portable Use Rights confused, let me explain
    If your company has Office licenses with SA assigned they can provide the HUP to employees who have a company desktop assigned for there use, the HUP is ordered off the HUP site, it is FPP media and is designed to be installed on your HOME PC, that PC can be a laptop or device, HUP ends when the SA ends
    Portable use Rights cover Laptops only, if you work in the company and it has an FPP or Volume License copy of Office assigned to your work desktop and the company also provides you a work LAPTOP, that only you use, so you are the sole and primary user, the same Office license will cover the work desktop and the work laptop, the both devices are used only and exclusively by you, this is not dependant on SA coverage
    Hope this helps

  3. Hi Emma,Running Access applications over Terminal Services is becoming a popular and efficient way to using an Access application from remote locations.I am a Microsoft ISV Registered Partner, and I develop Access runtime applications. I purchased Office Pro 2000 and the Microsoft Office Developer CD in 2000. I\’m still using Access 2000, but plan to update to Access 2007 or 2010 in a few months. What are the licensing requirements in a situation where my customer is using my Access 2000 (runtime version) application on Terminal Server, assuming that he already has purchased licenses for Microsoft Server and the appropriate number of TS CAL\’s ? Are the licensing requirements different for using an Access 2007 or Access 2010 runtime application in the same Microsoft Server and TS environment as previously described?Thanks,-Richard

  4. Hi Emma,First – LOVE YOUR WORK!Question on applications in TS: I note that you say that Office Ulitmate 2007 FPP can be used in a TS environment. I have been wondering for a while why the Desktop Application in TS licensing brief states that from 2007 MOST FPP Office cannot be used on TS.I was excited to finally find what the exception was. I had a look at the MSLT for Office Ultimate 2007 FPP, but this does not appear to include the clause permitting installation on a network device (that we usually look for to confirm permitted use on TS). Could you please point me to when it is confirmed that Office Ultimate 2007 FPP can be used on TS. Thanks,Kirsty

  5. Hi Emma – I happened upon your site while searching for info on licensing Office on Terminal Server – so thank you for an excellent summary! I do have a question for you though (apologies, obviously, for resurrecting a 3 year old post). You’re quite clear in Scenario 4 that laptops licensed under the secondary use provision are also licensed to access Office apps installed on a terminal server – however – from the current (2011) MS licensing site ( the remote desktop services document states (also in Scenario 4) that secondary device rights do not cover such use. Is this a recent change – and is it retrospective? Many thanks, Gav

  6. Hi, Great work.
    But I have one question on remote access of an office 2007 pro. If i have licensed the the access on the windows server with win and ts cals. how do i license the remote access of the office 2007 pro if it’s accessed by NON-EMPLOYEES?

    Or is this kind of access not allowed by non employees?
    Thanks in advance,

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