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Activation methods

Please note that the activation schemes for Office 2016 and Office 365 ProPlus are different and often incompatible despite the two being very similar and both install to the same location. One can successfully have Office 2013 and Office 365 ProPlus installed on the same machine with different license schemes, but one cannot have Office 2016 and Office 365 ProPlus installed on the same machine. A quick rundown of the different licensing schemes are below.

Office 2016 Suite vs Office 365 Suite
Below are some links to describe the evolving differences and evolving feature lists between Office 2016 and Office 365.

What’s the difference between Office 365 and Office 2016?

What’s new and improved in Office 2016

What’s new in Office 365

Reduced Functionality Mode

  • Office Suite has not yet been activated.
  • The user can view and print Office 365 ProPlus documents, but can’t create or edit documents.
  • The user also sees a message in Office 365 ProPlus that most features are turned off.

Multiple Activation Key (MAK) activation

  • Can only activate Office 2016 Suite. Can’t activate the Office 365 Suite.
  • Does not need a periodic network Connection for Activation.
  • Any user that can access the machine can use the full features of Office, even if they are not a Rutgers person.
  • Need to manually track activation counts.

Key Management Service (KMS) activation

  • Similar to MAK activation but needs to check into check activation key against periodically. (180 days)
  • Activation counts are tracked on the KMS server.

User-Based Activation

  • Commonly used with the One-Click install of Office 365 Suite.
  • User must have an Office 365 account licensed to use Office 365 ProPlus.
  • The activation key is checked against Office 365 cloud periodically. (45 days)
  • User may have up to 5 installs (PC or Mac) active.
  • The sixth device is in Reduced Functionality Mode until the user removes one of the previous devices from their O365 account via the web.

Device Based Activation (DBA)

  • Similar to User Based Activation but the computer gets an Azure account as if it was a person.
  • Any user, even those without an Office 365 account, may use all features of the installed Office 365 Suite.
  • The activation key is checked against Office 365 cloud periodically. (45 days)
  • 5 install limit is applied against the machine, not user. Please be aware of this on re-installs on the same machine. Ask Azure/Office365 admin to reset machine license if going over 5 activations.
  • DBA created Azure account is separate from RAD account created for RAD connected machines.
  • Azure expects hostnames, not fully qualified domain names, to be unique.,, and would share the same DBA account and count as 3 of 5 activations.
  • Microsoft claims that in a fully managed environment it is impossible to have hostnames collide.
  • If the Workstation is renamed, the Azure license account does not get renamed. (Testing to see if after 45 days if Office will renew using old Azure account or revert to Reduced Functionality Mode.)
  • Uses super secret key during the activation process. Guard with your life! If the key becomes compromised, it will be disabled for entire RU Connect tenant and a new one issued. Office will go into reduced functionality mode until a new key is applied to the workstation.
  • Only available for Windows machines.

Shared Computer Activation (SCA)

Multiple methods of configuring:

  • Can be configured with the Office 2016 Deployment Tool as an install option in a config tool.
  • Can be configured by updating the Registry.
  • Can be configured by a Group Policy. Use the Office 2016 Administrative Template files (ADMX/ADML).
  • User must have an Office 365 account licensed to use Office 365 ProPlus.
  • Does not count against user’s 5 device activation limit. Instead, a licensing token is stored on the computer in the user’s profile folder. Roaming Profiles are supported.
  • Each user that logs into the shared computer gets their own licensing token in their own profile.
  • The licensing token only lasts for a few days before it expires. A new token will be fetched from Office 365 Cloud the next time the user launches an Office product on that PC.
  • Scarletmail users may activate a token using their credentials just like any other RU Connect user. They do not get OneDrive space and will only be able to access documents stored on the local drive.
  • If a user does not have an Office 365 ProPlus license or bypasses the Activate Office dialog box, no licensing token is obtained and Office 365 ProPlus is now in reduced functionality mode.
  • Only available for Windows machines.
  • Overview of shared computer activation for Office 365 ProPlus…