Posted by: kurtsh | January 18, 2012

INFO: The Difference between Office Professional Plus 2010 from “Volume Licensing” and “Office 365”

This has come up in one of my customers so I thought I’d write a post on it:

There are technical differences, from an IT perspective, between the following software:

  • Office Pro Plus 2010 for Volume Licensing
    (the traditional Office software downloaded/deployed by Enterprises from
  • Office Pro Plus 2010 for Office365
    (the special Office software that is provided by subscribing to Office 365 E3/E4)

The two are different MEDIA TYPES. (Sort of like the difference between MSDN vs TRIAL vs RETAIL vs VL)  VL & O365 media types offer the same product mix of Word, Excel, etc., (although it seems to be missing Publisher in the default install) however here are some key technical differences between the two:


Office Professional Plus for Office 365

Volume licensed products

Download location

Office 365 portal (at

Volume Licensing Service Center (


Office Professional Plus

Office Standard 2010

Office Professional Plus 2010

Product key and activation

Subscription-based activation

Terms: monthly per user license

Volume licensing technologies:

Key Management Service (KMS): 180 days

Multiple Activation Key (MAK): perpetual activation

When Reduced Functionality Mode (RFM) starts

In 60 days from last activation

MAK: not applicable

KMS: in 180 days

Notification mode

Deployment options

Office 365 portal

Unmanaged and managed options

Unmanaged and managed options

Microsoft Application Virtualization (App-V)

Remote Desktop Services (Terminal Services)

Allowed number of copies

5 active installations on different devices per user

One device per license\activation

Office Professional Plus 2010 for Office 365…

  • … appears in Add/Remove Programs as “Microsoft Office Professional Plus 2010”
    If “Office Professional Plus 2010 for Office 365” is installed on another system that already has ”Office Professional Plus 2010 Volume License Media” installed on it, TWO entries will appear in Add/Remove programs that both read, “Office Professional Plus 2010”.
  • … doesn’t use a traditional Volume License “Activation Key”.
    It won’t take MAK/KMS keys.  It’s a special media type that installs Office 2010 along with something called the “Office Subscription Agent”. The user is simply required to enter their Office 365 credentials (username/pwd) and the Agent reaches out over the Internet to verify the user account. (i.e. that the user is still subscribed to Office 365) Upon doing so it activates the local copy of Office 2010 for ONE MONTH.
  • … will “connect to Office 365” monthly to validate that an active subscription for the user is still available.
    It’s a special version of Office that checks that the user still has an active subscription license once a month. If it can’t, Office 365’s version of OfficeProPlus2010 goes into “reduced functionality mode” and basically becomes a ‘viewer’ – i.e. no editing or creating new documents.

How does one figure out how many copies are deployed?  How do you differentiate between the desktops that have Office Professional Plus 2010 Volume Licensing Media, and Office Professional Plus 2010 for Office 365?

Right now this is the only way I know of:
Office Professional Plus 2010 for Office 365 runs two pieces of software to validate the install against their subscription.  Searching for the Office Subscription Agent (osa.exe) and/or the Office Subscription Agent Notifier (osaui.exe) would be indicators that the desktop is using the Office 365 media. 

Using a Desktop Management solution like SCCM 2007 R3 could pick up the existence of these executables on the desktop to inventory for Office Professional Plus 2010 for Office 365 in your environment.


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