With the increasing popularity of Office 365 and Office 2013 Pro Plus available with E3 licencing it has rewritten the rule book on application licence activation. In the past Microsoft gave us two options of activation, KMS and MAK. KMS was a favourite amongst system administrators because of its ease of deployment and reliance on robust distribution and activation technologies such as DNS and Active Directory. MAK had its place in smaller networks of 20 machines or less.
Enter Office 365 licencing. Now system administrators have to get their head around another form of activation, user initiated activation. User initiated activation prompts the logged on user to enter their email address and password for activation. Office, then interrogates the Office 365 tenant associated with the email address and then activates that instance of Office for the user, if the user is suitably licenced in Office 365. Great for admins, who now do not need to worry about their KMS states, or MAK activations.
A benefit of user initiated activation allows the user to activate Office 2013 on up to 5 computers at a time. This is great for the mobile user who hop between the same devices all the time. However, a side effect of this activation method means, that if you want to activate a 6th computer, you must first login to the Office 365 portal and unlicence a machine. This is Ok for this type of user, who may only do this once every few months. But what about hot desk users?
Hot desk users will frequently switch machines daily, sometimes even on a per shift basis or even switching teams within the department during the same day. These users will quickly use their 5 activations and to unlicence a machine in the portal every time this happens is not a good user experience.
So what is the answer to this problem? – Shared Computer Licencing
Shared Computer Licencing is a model which you can adopt for hot desk machines. This allows the users to activate against these machines temporarily using their credentials as normal users. They will be able to switch between machines multiple times, more often than the standard user. Best of all, machines configured for shared licencing do not count to one of the users 5 activations! Microsoft recognise that this cpuld be a potential loophole, and so have put some closely guarded limits on the amount of activations a user can have using this licencing method.
In order to configure shared licencing on a machine you have a couple of options:
Install office 2013 Pro Plus on to machines using a custom text file using Office Deployment Tool. Within the text file add the following:
<Display Level="None" AcceptEULA="True" />
<Property Name=”SharedComputerLicensing” Value=”1″ />
For machines already deployed, you do not have to reinstall Office, you can add the following registry value:
To check that the computer has been successfully activated for shared computer licencing, Open Office and perform activation. After activation go to the following folder
In this location there should be some text files. Leave these alone
When the user’s shared licence is set to expire, they will be warned within the Office application and given the option to renew
Mark is an Independent Microsoft Teams Consultant with over 15 years experience in Microsoft Technology. Mark is the founder of Commsverse, a dedicated Microsoft Teams conference and former MVP. You can follow him on twitter @UnifiedVale