How To Fix “This Copy of Microsoft Office Cannot Be Used” Error Message

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Chances are that you are currently running Office 365 on a RDS Server, Citrix Apps or Desktops and are either just seeing this error message or you remember seeing it ‘a long time ago’ and don’t recall how you fixed it.

Regardless if you have used the Office Deployment Tool, manually installed and updated or if it was working at one time and then stopped – check and make sure the billing information is up to date. More often than not, especially with small to medium businesses – these things can be overlooked and a simple answer.

If everything is legitimate and ‘should’ be working, we have some registry

If you are using Office 365 on your Citrix Apps and Desktop workloads, you have probably run into this error. It says, “This copy of Microsoft Office cannot be used on a computer running terminal services.” I have seen this error even though I have used Office Deployment Tool and created a configuration.xml file for the roll-out.

This copy of Microsoft Office cannot be used on a computer running Terminal Services – Error Message

The Solution to This copy of Microsoft Office cannot be used on a computer running terminal services

The reason why you get this error is that you are missing a key in registry.

Go to this path in registry:


And add the following key:

SharedComputerLicensing: value 1

You need to do this on each VDA or in your image.

Once that is done, you need to set policy as well. For that, you need the latest Administrative Template Files for Microsoft Office. If you do not already have them, you can download here:

When the Administrative Template Files are implemented, create a new policy. Navigate to this path in the policy editor.

Computer Configuration\Policies\Administrative Templates\Microsoft Office 2016 (Machine)\Licensing Settings.

Enable the policy named “Use named computer activation”.

Link the policy to an OU so it will apply to the VDAs. After that, you need to reboot your VDA’s so the policy will apply.

What If That Doesn’t Work?

We have seen in some instances that when using the above guide, additional methods are needed to completely install Office 365 in an RDS environment

All files and requirements are found here on Microsoft’s own guide on setting this up. 

Disclaimer: From our past experiences with working with this installation, we have found the following recurring issues. This would depend on Microsoft’s future patches to remedy the issues. 

  • Outlook doesn’t integrate with QB
  • Outlook crashes
  • Caching issues (mostly with Search function for older emails)
  • Constantly asking for authentication
  • Sharepoint doesn’t synchronize
  • Design settings don’t save (Office Background & Theme)

 This a guide our team has put together to make the process simpler.

  1. Follow the link reference above for the material needed for the installation. To start off you need to download the deployment tool for the version you’ll need. For this setup, we’ll be working with the 2016 version.  
  2. Go ahead and download the 2016 deployment tool.

3. Create a directory that you can access from any server so you can continue to use the same directory for the installation across the servers. When you run the deployment tool, it will ask where you’d like to extract the files, choose the directory you created.

4. You’ll end up with a setup.exe and a configuration.xml. The configuration.xml file is what controls everything and you will edit to install the desired software. 

5. Right click and edit the xml file, and you’ll see microsoft already provides with links on how to set it up and other product id’s you can add to install along with office such as Project and Visio. Click here for the link mentioned in the xml for 2016. 

6. For this purpose we will only be installing office 365 2016 with no extra products, below would be the configuration settings as per the link above for that set up. If you will be doing 1 directory for all installations as we recommend, put that directory as the source in the xml file. 

<Configuration>    <Add SourcePath="[\\YOUR SHARED LOCATION\HERE" OfficeClientEdition="32">     <Product ID="O365ProPlusRetail" >      <Language ID="en-us" />     </Product>    </Add> </Configuration>

7. As per the first Microsoft guide, you have to add this at the bottom of the configuration after all the prefilled information to work on RDS environments. 

<Display Level="None" AcceptEULA="True" /> <Property Name="SharedComputerLicensing" Value="1" />

8. We recommend changing the display level variable to “full” instead of “none” so you can view the installation progress.

Here is the the final configuration xml format we use. The logging line was put it to log events in event viewer. For the Source path, you would put the location of the directory you chose.

  <Add SourcePath=”\\servername\Office 365” OfficeClientEdition=”32″ Channel=”Broad” >
    <Product ID=”O365ProPlusRetail”>
      <Language ID=”en-us” />
<Updates Enabled=”TRUE” />
<Display Level=”FULL” AcceptEULA=”True” />
<Logging Level=”Standard” Path=”%temp%” />
<Property Name=”SharedComputerLicensing” Value=”1″/>

9. Browse to the folder holding the the xml and set up files.
10. Hold shift and right click in an empty spot in the folder and choose “Open command prompt here”

11. Type out the following command: setup.exe /download configuration.xml

  • This command will download the installation material. You’ll notice it creates a new folder in the directory. You would use this same command if you ever want to update the installation material. We suggest doing this once a month to keep the directory up to date. 
  • You’ll know the process is completed because command prompt would add a new line waiting for you to enter a new command.

12. When the download finishes you can now install the application. To install this and any application on terminal servers you should open a separate elevated command prompt and enter the command “change user /install”. Don’t close the window.

13. In the cmd prompt that is pointing to the O365 directory, type the following command to begin the install: “setup.exe /configure configuration.xml”

  • A microsoft window installation window will pop up and begin the installation process. Proceed with the installation prompts. 

14. Once completed, on the second cmd prompt for step 12, enter the following command: “change user /execute”

15. You are now done installing the suite. The shortcuts are placed in the following directory: C:\programdata\microsoft\windows\startmenu\programs.

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