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What licensing issues arise if I install and use Microsoft Office software (in this case Visio) as part of my web service backend?

My company's flagship piece of software can convert Microsoft Visio files for use in their environment, but of course requires a local install of Visio to decode the files. The system I'm to create is to offer a sort of web service where people can upload their Visio files, and then we can show off one of the benefits of buying our full price software.

In order to do this I'd need an install of our software on the server, as well as Visio. What I'm a little concerned about is technically any visitor to the site is technically using Visio. I can't really find any other examples when searching online so any advice would be greatly appreciated!

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I don't know about Visio, but I've tried this with Excel in a corporate environment (everyone had license including the server). There are some technical issues with managing running instances of the app on the server. Do you really want Visio running 25 times? It's not easy to know which one to kill. – JeffO Sep 24 '11 at 21:44
up vote 2 down vote accepted

If you have a single license per each web server that should be fine. Technically, your software/the website user identity is using the software.

So long as you don't distribute Visio through the site you are OK.

If you look through technet/MSDN, there are many articles about automating office on the server side, so this is evidence that using office on the server is a supported and expected scenario.

You should contact Microsoft directly and get confirmation from MS - it depends on what Office license you have.

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Great answer thanks! I'll look through MSDN and get something concrete enough to show my CTO. – sxthomson Sep 24 '11 at 18:30
Microsoft does not recommend or support server-side Automation of Office. You can do it anyway at your own risk. Here are some of the things that you may want to consider - – Mayank Sep 24 '11 at 19:56
This is much safer in a corporate environment where you could prove all users have a software license. – JeffO Sep 24 '11 at 21:42

On the Help menu, click About Visio, Click View the Microsoft Software License Terms.

Not all Microsoft Office software is authorized for use in a sever environment. For example, Excel is not authorized for use on a server. There are also restrictions for use in Terminal Services environments.

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