Formerly Office 365 ProPlus
While Microsoft has not announced an end-of-support date for its Remote Desktop Services (RDS) role for Windows Server, its demise looks increasingly likely. Even though RDS will remain supported until at least 2026, Microsoft is adding more licensing restrictions and limitations to RDS — in some cases boldly, and in others, more quietly.
Customers use the RDS role to provide virtual or session desktops to remote users. Many use RDS to host virtual desktop infrastructure (VDI) in their own datacenters or through third-party hosting.
These days, Microsoft's preferred solution for these kinds of tasks is its own hosted service, Azure Virtual Desktop (AVD). Microsoft only enables multi-session editions of Windows client on AVD, not RDS. Multi-session support allows customers to host VDI with fewer resources, and without access to multi-session editions of Windows client, Windows Server is the only multi-session option for in RDS. But Microsoft is limiting support for Microsoft 365 Apps for enterprise on Windows Server, which affects on-premises RDS customers directly.
Windows Server 2022 was not supported at all by Microsoft 365 Apps for Enterprise (the former Office 365 ProPlus suite) when it was initially released, and Windows Server 2019 and 2016 are supported only until October 2025. In October 2022, after numerous customer complaints, Microsoft relented and agreed that Microsoft 365 Apps for enterprise will be supported on Windows Server 2022 through October 2026, which is the end of Mainstream support for Windows Server 2022. It's anyone's guess if Microsoft will continue to support Microsoft 365 Apps for Enterprise on future versions of Windows Server, but RDS customers shouldn't plan on it. Microsoft wants customers to use AVD for remote desktops running Microsoft 365 Apps for Enterprise.
Unlike AVD, RDS can be used in fully disconnected scenarios like remote worksites, does not require an Azure subscription, and can be deployed in third-party clouds -- which likely explains, at least in part, why Microsoft is trying to move customers away from RDS.
Microsoft is planning to continue to offer support for RDS at least until 2026, but customers should avoid future and longer-term investments in RDS, as all signs indicate its days are numbered.
Chart summarizes differences among desktop clients from Microsoft for Exchange Server and Exchange Online.
Illustration shows a chart of components included in the Microsoft 365 Developer Program sandbox, compared with a full E5 subscription.
Participation in the Microsoft 365 Developer Program entitles users to create a full Microsoft 365 E5 sandbox environment for testing and development.
In a reversal of Microsoft’s previous support policy, Microsoft 365 Apps for enterprise, the subscription-based suite of Office applications, will be supported for use on Windows Server 2022, for a time.
Chart shows end-of-support dates for versions of Office and Microsoft 365 Apps running on Windows Server.
Support for running most versions of Office applications on Windows Server will end by Oct. 2025, pushing organizations to Microsoft services for hosted session-based virtual desktops.
Defender Application Guard supports opening Office documents in an isolated environment to protect the OS and user files from malware that evade other filtering.
Illustration shows two screen shots to contrast the user experience of Protected View Application Guard notifications in Office.
Administrators must ensure that they retain relevant data while freeing licenses for reuse when removing a Microsoft 365 user.