What you need to know
- Microsoft will release Office 2021, which doesn't require a subscription, by the end of this year
- Microsoft also announced the next Office Long-Term Servicing Channel release, which is built for devices that can't change on a monthly basis.
- Both versions of Office are built for situations in which people don't want to rely on the cloud.
Microsoft announced two upcoming versions of Office, one built for consumers and one geared towards commercial businesses. For consumers, Microsoft will release Office 2021 by the end of the year. Microsoft also announced a variant of the Office Long-Term Servicing Channel (LTSC) designed for businesses that need a static version of Office.
Office 2021 is a version of the Office suite that doesn't require a Microsoft 365 subscription. Similar to Office 2019, it's built for people and small businesses that want to use Office but don't want a Microsoft 365 subscription.
Office 2021 will be supported for five years and is a one-time purchase. Microsoft doesn't plan to change its pricing compared to Office 2019. A brief FAQ in the post announcing Office 2021 also states that it will be on Windows and macOS and that it will have 32-bit and 64-bit versions.
We have a post comparing Office 2019 vs. Office 365 that explains the difference between Microsoft's different versions of Office. Many of the points in that post will also apply to Office 2021.
We don't know the features and changes that will arrive with Office 2021, so we'll have to wait for more details from Microsoft. The Verge points out that Office LTSC will include things like dark mode support, accessibility improvements, and other features. It adds that Office 2021 for consumers will have similar additions.
Office LTSC is for a different use case than Office 2021. Microsoft explains that Office LTSC is for "regulated devices that cannot accept feature updates for years at a time, process control devices on the manufacturing floor that are not connected to the internet, and specialty systems that must stay locked in time and require a long-term servicing channel."
Microsoft expects businesses to use Office LTSC in specific scenarios rather than rolling it out across an entire organization.
Microsoft's Jared Spataro, head of Microsoft 365, told The Verge, "We certainly have a lot of customers that have moved to the cloud over the last 10 months, that's happened en masse really. At the same time, we definitely have customers who have specific scenarios where they don't feel like they can move to the cloud."
Office LTSC will be supported for five years going forward, which is two fewer than what Microsoft provided previously. Microsoft explains Office LTSC and its changes in more detail in a Tech Community post.
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Sean Endicott brings nearly a decade of experience covering Microsoft and Windows news to Windows Central. He joined our team in 2017 as an app reviewer and now heads up our day-to-day news coverage. If you have a news tip or an app to review, hit him up at email@example.com.