Microsoft today announces two new versions of Office: a consumer Office 2021 version and Office LTSC for commercial customers. Office 2021 will be available later this year for both Windows and macOS, and like the previous Office 2019 release, it is designed for those who do not want to subscribe to the cloud-powered Microsoft 365 variants.
Microsoft does not fully detail all the features and changes in Office 2021 yet, but the Office LTSC (Long-Term Servicing Channel) variant will include things like dark mode support, accessibility enhancements, and features like Dynamic Arrays and XLOOKUP in Excel. Office 2021
Don’t expect any major UI changes here either. Dark mode is the obvious change visually, but Microsoft will still focus most of the interface and cloud-powered features on the Microsoft 365 versions of Office first.
Office LTSC is a clear recognition from Microsoft that not all business customers are ready to move to the cloud. “It’s just trying to meet customers where they are,” explains Jared Spataro, head of Microsoft 365, in an interview with The Verge. “We have absolutely many customers who have moved to the cloud in the last 10 months, a lot has really happened. At the same time, we definitely have customers who have specific scenarios where they do not feel they can move to the cloud. ”
These specific scenarios include regulated industries where processes and apps cannot be changed monthly, or production facilities that rely on Office and want a locked time release. Microsoft is also committing to another perpetual version of Office for the future, but that is changing prices and how these new versions are supported.
Office LTSC will now only be supported for five years instead of the seven that Microsoft has typically given to Office. Prices for Office Professional Plus, Office Standard and individual apps are also increasing 10 percent for commercial customers, with Office 2021 consumer and small business prices still.
Office LTSC support timing is more in line with how Windows is supported, and Microsoft is also adjusting the release schedules for both Office and Windows more closely as a result. Both of the next versions of Office LTSC and Windows 10 LTSC will be released in the second half of 2021. “They will be carefully timed, although we do not have the details yet for the Windows release,” says Spataro. “The idea is to bring them together so that companies can distribute and manage them on a similar type of cadence.”
Microsoft now plans to release a preview of Office LTSC in April, with a full release later this year. However, the Consumer Office 2021 variant will not be available in preview. Both of the new Office variants also come with OneNote and include 32-bit and 64-bit versions.