Microsoft Surprises with Office 365 ProPlus Support on Windows Server 2019
Microsoft will give partners the option to deploy Office 365 ProPlus and run OneDrive Files On-Demand on a remote Windows Server 2019. The surprise move is a reversal from a decision late last year, when Microsoft said it was dropping Office 365 ProPlus support for Windows Server 2019 Remote Desktop Services (RDS).
The reversal is welcome news to partners with customers that have Windows Server 2008 R2 that must migrate by January, that can’t – or don’t wish to – rely on the public cloud to store files. Microsoft’s change of heart means Windows Server 2019 is now a migration option.
“While Office 365 ProPlus provides the best experience when running on Windows 10, we know some of you rely on Windows Server to provide virtual desktop services for your users,” said Jared Spataro, corporate VP for Microsoft 365. “I’m happy to share that we’ll support Office 365 ProPlus running on Windows Server 2019.”
Spataro said that the Windows Server 2019 support will become available within the next few months. Including OneDrive Files On Demand will allow partners to configure Windows Server 2019 in a virtual environment and provide a file and synchronization capability that only downloads files to a local device that users need.
“The FSLogix container technology is now fully integrated with Office apps in virtual environments,” Spataro noted. “This technology improves the speed and reliability of virtualized Office apps to feel like the experience of using Office apps on a dedicated machine. The FSLogix containers work in virtualized environments, including those provided by Microsoft, Citrix, and VMWare.”
Microsoft is including the FSLogix technology at no extra charge for customers with Microsoft 365 E3/E5/A3/A5/Student Use Benefits/F1/Business, Windows 10 Enterprise E3/E5, Windows 10 A3/A5, Windows 10 VDA, Remote Desktop Services (RDS), Client Access License (CAL) and Subscriber Access License (SAL).
While Microsoft more heavily promotes using Office 365 and the Azure hosted OneDrive for Business or SharePoint Online for file and sync services, some customers still prefer to enable access on Windows Server. With mainstream support for Windows Server 2008 and Windows Server 2008 R2 ending in six months, partners and customers have awaited word on the ability to migrate to the new Windows Server 2019.
“It’s about time they did this,” said Peter Fidler, president and founding partner of WCA Technologies, a managed services provider, IT consultancy and Microsoft silver partner.
Many of WCA’s clients are law firms that want their Office files to remain on servers.
“Lawyers still want or need Office on a remote server,” he said.
Along with the pending Windows Server 2019 support, Microsoft has enhanced the virtualization performance of Outlook, OneDrive and Teams. Improvements to Outlook Cached Mode will provide faster access to email and calendars, Microsoft says, by synchronizing the inbox before the calendar and reducing the number of folders synced by default. A new admin option on Outlook Cached Mode aims to boost the speed of synched calendars.
OneDrive will have a per-machine installation option, which Microsoft said will let people share a single installation of the OneDrive app while letting users maintain their own folders and files. Likewise, Teams will have a per-machine installation option for chat and collaboration. Microsoft will also add calling and meetings in Teams via optimized audio, video and media capabilities — with help of its partnership with Citrix.
Microsoft also noted coming improvements to Teams that will include support for the company’s pending Windows Virtual Desktop, optimized caching for non-persistent configurations and an overall performance boost.