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Microsoft Now Supports Office 365 ProPlus on Windows Server 2019

Microsoft has reversed an earlier position and now plans to support the use of Office 365 ProPlus on Windows Server 2019, even for organizations using it in virtual desktop infrastructure (VDI) scenarios.

The support was described by Jared Spataro, corporate vice president for Microsoft 365, in a July 1 announcement of various Office 365 improvements for virtual environments. "Office 365 ProPlus, our flagship Office experience, will be supported on Windows Server 2019," he stated.

Spataro now heads a newly formed Microsoft 365 marketing group, according to this recent ZDNet story by veteran Microsoft reporter Mary Jo Foley. Microsoft's reorganization aims to push Microsoft 365 as integrated software conceptually, rather than as a bundle of software products, according to Foley, citing a Microsoft source.

The seemingly shocking notion that Office 365 ProPlus once wasn't supported on Window Server 2019 for VDI use was perhaps little-known in the first place. It was affirmed back in November in a perhaps obscure Microsoft TechNet forum post.

The lack of support, now reversed, was expected to perhaps drive organizations accessing Office 365 ProPlus on remote servers in VDI scenarios toward the use of Microsoft's new Windows Virtual Desktop service instead. At least, that was the view of Microsoft partner Nerdio back in April.

There was no apparent explanation for the turnabout on Windows Server 2019 support by Microsoft.

FSLogix Support
In a related VDI announcement, Microsoft announced that Microsoft 365 and certain other customers now have the ability to use Microsoft's FSLogix technology for VDI scenarios "at no additional cost."

Microsoft bought FSLogix last year. Its technology serves as a profile management solution that helps keep user information together when they roam, as in VDI scenarios when accessing applications from a remote server. Microsoft described it as creating "FSLogix containers" that will work across virtualized environments, "including those provided by Microsoft, Citrix, and VMware."

Organizations need to have the following licensing in place to have no-cost access to the FSLogix technology:

  • Microsoft 365 E3/E5/A3/A5/Student Use Benefits/F1/Business
  • Windows 10 Enterprise E3/E5
  • Windows 10 Education A3/A5
  • Windows 10 VDA per user
  • Remote Desktop Services (RDS) Client Access License (CAL) and Subscriber Access License (SAL)

Files On-Demand Support
In addition, "in the coming months," Microsoft plans to add OneDrive Files On-Demand support on Windows Server 2019, according to Spataro.

OneDrive is Microsoft's cloud-based storage service that's part of most Office 365 subscription plans. Files On-Demand is feature that works with OneDrive to show a Windows Explorer directory view of one's files stored at Microsoft's datacenters. Files On-Demand saves local disk space, as the files get downloaded to a desktop only when they are opened by end users.

Other Office 365 Support
Another improvement concerns the Outlook's e-mail and calendar cache support in VDI environments. IT pros also now can adjust calendar and folder synchronization default settings to improve the VDI experience for end users.

There's a new "per-machine installation option" for OneDrive. It lets users "share a single installation of the OneDrive app while still maintaining their own individual folders and files," Microsoft indicated.

Similarly, a new per-user index option in Windows Search now "allows each user profile to persist its own search index."

Lastly, Microsoft added "per-machine installation" options for "Chat and Collaboration" features when using the Microsoft Teams service. It's planning to add Teams support, as well, for non-persistent setups, as with Windows Virtual Desktop VDI scenarios. "In the coming months, we'll offer Calling and Meetings in Teams through Audio/Video Media optimization in collaboration with Citrix," Spataro indicated. 

About the Author

Kurt Mackie is senior news producer for the 1105 Enterprise Computing Group.

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