SMEs that need to have multiple users (connecting to and using the same remote computer) but only have a (less-expensive) Microsoft 365 Business subscription have been given a boost by Microsoft in the form expanded rights with the imminent roll-out of SCA for Microsoft 365 Business.
What Is SCA?
Shared Computer Activation (SCA) is a service that allows a business to deploy Office 365 on a computer that is accessed by multiple users.
SCA That Doesn’t Count Against The Device Limit
The latest announcement from Microsoft means that Microsoft 365 Business subscribers (who would normally only be able to install and activate the Office 365 Business Client on a limited number of devices such as 5 PCs) will, with the roll-out from 30th April, be able to benefit from being able to use the Office 365 Business Client with shared computer activation enabled in a way that doesn’t count against that device limit.
Where It’s Useful
Situations (where this can add value and be useful to SMEs) include :
- Multiple workers on different shifts at the same premises needing to use a shared computer with each worker using Excel on that computer during their shift to track orders & shipments.
- Multiple workers use Word on shared computers at a work station throughout the day to create reports from a template.
- Business owners and accounts staff can connect remotely to a Windows 2016 Server running Remote Desktop Services (RDS) to use Excel and the company’s accounting software.
- Field service employees use Office on a computer that’s located in a conference room to update/write reports.
- Remote workers connect from home connect to Windows Virtual Desktops (WVD) in Azure with Office installed to work on specific accounts/records.
It is important to note that M365 Business does not include Office 365 Pro Plus, just the activation rights in the existing business client that comes in M365B. The new SCA rights in M365 Business will, therefore, still require that each user be licensed, because companies can’t legally share Office on a single PC among, e.g. 5 users, where only three are covered by M365 Business licenses.
Also, users can only share the Windows, not a Mac version of Office on an SCA-covered machine.
What Does This Mean For Your Business?
Although Microsoft is not giving anything away as such with the SCA rights in M365 Business, it is, however, introducing something that takes account of how some industries need to work with software in real life i.e. computers often need to be shared by multiple users with different user profiles, and multiple users in some businesses need to connect to the same remote computer at the same time. In this respect, it may add a great deal of value for many businesses, and in doing so, may help gain and retain customers, and lead to new opportunities for Microsoft.
SMEs are likely to welcome this added value service from Microsoft as they may have been stuck between having to choose E3 (without SCA), saving costs, and try to implement time-consuming workarounds to get more out of what they had.
Even though the roll-out date starts on April 30th, it may take a couple of months before the full roll-out is completed.