Office Pro Plus can be a bit confusing because it is both a service and a product.
Office Professional Plus: The Product
Office Professional Plus , a high-end version of Microsoft Office 2010, was previously available only through a Microsoft licensing agreement. Now, businesses can enjoy Office Pro Plus with the purchase of a monthly subscription, which includes the 2010 versions of Word, Access, Excel, Onenote, PowerPoint, Lync 2010, InfoPath, Outlook, Publisher, and SharePoint Workspace. According to the service description, you can purchase a single copy for use on five devices. Each device is intended to serve the same user.
Office Professional Plus: The Service
There are two aspects to Office Professional Plus as a service. First, you can purchase Office Pro Plus via subscription, as a standalone offering or bundled with the E3 and E4 plans for Office 365. Licenses are managed online by indicating which Office 365 subscribers have rights to download and install the bits.
Secondly, the bits you get from the subscription are modified from the volume licensing bits. The Office 365 version automatically verifies licensing and self-activates via the internet.
Businesses using Office Pro Plus reduce upfront costs associated with keeping current with Microsoft Office. Many businesses still use Office 2003, which is not supported with Office 365. This lack of support is not meant to force a new purchase of Office every decade. Office 2003 isn’t supported simply because technology has moved past what existed when Office 2003 was created. Carrying legacy software forward is costly and limits what can be supported in new services.
Office Pro Plus is available in 32 and 64 bit versions. The hardware requirements are the same as those for Office 2010. Office Pro Plus requires the installation of the Office 365 setup utility, which will be installed if not present.
You can download and install Office Pro Plus directly from the Office 365 Portal or post the package to a network share. Additionally, IT can deploy the package using group policy. You cannot use Microsoft Application Virtualization as part of the deployment as App-V does not support Office Pro Plus. In addition, you cannot use Office Pro Plus hosted on Terminal Services. To use App-V or Terminal Services, you must have a volume license version of Office 2010. Office Pro Plus is not a volume license version of Office.
When posting to network share, you can customize the installation using the Office Customization Tool. Note that this tool does not specifically address Office Pro Plus. Microsoft suggests setting the activation to KMS (but Office Pro Plus will activate using its unique method over the internet).
Keep in mind
Office Pro Plus is not an online version of Microsoft Office. Office 365 does include Office Web Apps, a feature of SharePoint Online, allowing users to work with Office documents in a browser.
Keep your subscription current! Installing Office Professional Plus as part of a trial subscription and then unsubscribing requires uninstalling and reinstalling a different version of Office. You cannot continue using Office Professional Plus as it will “time out”.
See the Office Professional Plus service description for details. Also there is a good blog post on the Microsoft Online team blog.
Office Professional Plus is a great way to keep up to date and distribute up front costs for purchasing a premium version of Microsoft Office. Enterprises or those with specific deployment requirements may prefer volume licenses for Office 2010 to better integrate with deployment options, but you can customize installations with some preparation. Overall, this is a good idea and will benefit both Microsoft and customers.