Being able to install and use Office on up to 5 PCs at the same time is one benefit of your organization having an Office 365 subscription with Office 365 ProPlus. For example, a user could have Office installed on the following computers:

  • a desktop computer in her office
  • a laptop that she uses when traveling
  • a home computer

Even though Office is installed on three different computers, only one Office 365 license is used. 

So how do you manage to keep track of all these installations?  What happens if the user already has Office installed on 5 computers, but needs to install Office on another computer? 

This blog post will cover both the user experience of managing Office 365 ProPlus installations and what aspects the Office 365 administrator can control. Why are we focusing on the user experience in a blog for IT Pros?  As you will see, the Office 365 user, not the administrator, actually plays the central role in managing Office 365 ProPlus installations. But administrators will need to be prepared to answer questions from users about such things as activation and deactivation, because these will be new and unfamiliar concepts for most users. 

As we go through the user experience in this blog post, we will provide some administrator-specific information. And the blog post finishes up with additional information for the administrator to consider for managing Office 365 ProPlus installations.

 

Viewing a list of Office 365 ProPlus installations

A user can see which computers she has installed Office on by signing in to the Office 365 Portal and going to the software page.

 

  

 

Only the signed in user can see this information.  Even if you are the administrator for your organization's Office 365 subscription, you can't see this information in any of your Office 365 administrative views. This also means you can't deactivate a user's installation of Office on a specific computer. More on deactivation in a bit.

(All the screen shots in this blog post are from Office 365 ProPlus Preview. These screens and the exact behavior might change a bit when the final version of Office 365 ProPlus is released.)

 

Activating an Office 365 ProPlus installation

How does Office 365 know which computers a user has installed Office on?  Office 365 knows this through a process called activation. For information about how activation works, see Overview of licensing and activation in Office 365 ProPlus.

When a user installs Office on a computer from the Office 365 Portal, and if the user hasn't already installed and activated Office on five other computers, Office is automatically activated. Once the Office installation is activated, the software page in the Office 365 Portal is updated with the name of the computer on which Office was installed.

Every day or every time you launch an Office 365 ProPlus application, it will check whether the individual installation or account has been deactivated. The computer needs to be connected to the Internet at least once every 30 days so that this check can be made. If the computer isn't connected to the Internet within 30 days, Office will end up in reduced functionality mode. In reduced functionality mode, the user will only be able to open and view existing Office files, but will not be able to use most of the other features of the application.

 

Deactivating an Office 365 ProPlus installation

What happens if a user tries to install Office from the Office 365 Portal, but the user has already installed and activated Office on five other computers?  In this case, the user will see this dialog box during the Office installation:

 

  


 

To continue the installation of Office on this computer using the same user account, the user must deactivate an existing Office installation.  The user can select Deactivate one in the dialog box, which will take the user back to the software page in the Office 365 Portal.  On the software page, the user can select which Office installation to deactivate by selecting deactivate for the appropriate computer.  After the user selects deactivate, the following dialog box appears:

 

  


 

 After the user confirms the deactivation by selecting Yes, the user can return to the Choose your product dialog box, close the dialog box, and then continue with the Office installation. After Office is installed, the first time the user opens an Office application, such as Word, the user might see the following message:

 

  


  

The user should select Activate, and then when prompted, sign in to Office 365. This will activate the Office installation. After activation succeeds, the user will see the following message:

 

  

 

Of course, the user can also deactivate an existing Office installation before starting a new Office installation.

Remember that even if you are an Office 365 administrator, you can't see which computers a user has installed Office on. That also means that you can't deactivate an existing Office installation on behalf of the user.

Deactivation doesn't actually uninstall Office from a computer. Office is still installed on the computer, but the Office applications are placed in reduced functionality mode.  When the user opens an Office application on a computer that has been deactivated, the user will see messages similar to this:

 

  

 

  

 

 

Reactivating an Office 365 ProPlus installation

What happens if a user accidentally deactivates the wrong Office installation or changes his mind?  In the Preview version, the user can do either of the following.

  • Perform an Online Repair. To perform an Online Repair on a computer that is running Windows 7, go to Programs and Features in Control Panel.  Right-click the entry for
    Office 365 ProPlus Preview, and then select Change. In the dialog box that appears, select Online Repair, and then select Repair.
  • Uninstall, and then reinstall Office. The user can uninstall Office from Programs and Features in Control Panel. The user can then go back to the Office 365 Portal to reinstall Office.

Both Online Repair and installation from the Office 365 Portal uses Click-to-Run technology, which reduces the time it takes to install Office.

(In the final version of Office 365 ProPlus, users will be able to reactivate Office without having to reinstall Office.  We plan to cover reactivation in a future blog post, once the final version of Office 365 ProPlus is available.)


Some considerations for Office 365 administrators

As noted earlier in this post, even if you are an Office 365 administrator, you can't see which computers a user has installed Office on and you can't deactivate an Office installation on a user's computer. But you do control the assignment of Office 365 licenses to users.  So, if a user leaves the company, you can re-assign that Office 365 license to a different user. And if the departed user had installed Office on a home computer, that Office installation will end up in reduced functionality mode.

Also, this blog post covered the scenario for when a user installs Office from the Office 365 Portal.  If your users aren't local administrators on their computers, they won't be able to install Office. If this is the case or if you want more control over how Office is installed to your users, you can download the Office 365 ProPlus software to your local network by using the Office Deployment Tool. You can then use another method to deploy Office to your users, such as scripts, Group Policy, or System Center Configuration Manager.  For more information, see Deployment options for Office 365 ProPlus.

If you use these other methods to deploy Office 365 ProPlus to your users, the Office installation will not be automatically activated. Your users will have to activate the Office installation the first time they open an Office application. When they open an Office application for the first after installation, they will see something like this:

 

  

 

If the user signs into Office 365, and if the user hasn't already reached the five install limit, Office will be activated and the user will see the Account Updated dialog box (see the screen shot earlier in this blog post). If the user has already reached the five install limit, the user will see this:

 

  

 

The user should select Go to your account to deactivate an install. The user will then need to sign in to Office 365 and deactivate one of the existing installations. After deactivating, the user should click Try Again in the Install limit reached dialog box, and the Office installation should be activated.

One last thing for you to consider as an Office 365 administrator. Even though in some cases activation requires some extra steps for the user to perform, the user should perform those steps. This way the installation will be correctly associated with the user's Office 365 account. If you sign in with your Office 365 administrator account to install and activate Office on a user's computer, the installation will be associated with your account, not the user's account. And your administrator account is subject to the same five install limit that the user's account has.