Microsoft announces perpetually-licensed Office 2021 for Windows and macOS

Humza

Posts: 842   +161
Staff member
In brief: Microsoft's latest iteration of standalone Office packs several new features and will launch in two flavors when it arrives on Windows and macOS later this year. Regular users and small businesses will get Office 2021 at the standard price, while a slightly more expensive Office LTSC (Long Term Servicing Channel) will become available for organizations with locked-in systems that prefer the stability and pricing of a standalone release over feature updates and subscription costs of Microsoft's cloud-powered 365 suite.

Microsoft revealed its plans of launching a standalone version of Office 2021 a few months ago, and the company has now given more information on what users can expect in terms of features, tweaks, versions, and support.

First and foremost is Office LTSC, Microsoft's offering for businesses employing specialty systems and regulated equipment that can't afford the interruptions of cloud-powered feature updates and must stay locked-in for years on end. Alongside accessibility and performance improvements, Office LTSC will pack some of the features of Microsoft's 365 apps like Dynamic Arrays, XLOOKUP in Excel, and dark mode support for multiple apps.

This version will come with Microsoft's OneNote app included. However, Skype for Business will be dropped in favor of Microsoft Teams, with the former becoming available as a separate download.

Microsoft will also apply a price hike of up to 10 percent on its suite offerings (Office Standard and Professional Plus) as well as individual apps. It will provide five years of support for this perpetual release. An upcoming commercial preview for Office LTSC will launch in April to familiarize organizations with the new changes.

Regular consumers of standalone Office 2021 will get the same support period as Office LTSC, though its pricing will remain unchanged from previous perpetual releases. Users can expect to see the same features and improvements as Office LTSC. Microsoft has said it will share more details regarding this version closer to release. Both business and consumer versions of Office will have 32-bit and 64-bit support and will be launching on Windows and macOS later this year.

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madboyv1

Posts: 1,676   +587
If it's a security risk to have on a computer after five years, it's hardly perpetual.
But that is not stopping anyone from continuing to use a product past it's support life, which is why the license is perpetual. Compare to a what amounts to a leased product or service that must be renewed on a regular basis, and if a developer decides to terminate the product or service then you no longer have access to it through official means.

Again, the phrasing "perpetual" has nothing to do with it's service life, it describes the type of license granted to the end user. If you feel compelled to remove a piece of software due to the cessation of security updates, that is a private choice being made by the licensee and not the licensor.
 

nismo91

Posts: 1,115   +150
I for one truly loathe Skype for Business. we used to use them occasionally, and it was a huge trainwreck. Then pandemic came and MS forced everyone to use Teams - except the Skype for Business didn't really disappear from Outlook. Worst yet, Skype for Business used to be only available to certain paying users, while Teams are technically free for all. It's probably easier for everybody if MS killed SFB right here right now.

into the office suite itself. I got free one-year office 365 service from a purchase of Win8.1 tablet in 2014 and frankly speaking if it wasn't for the security patches I wouldn't have any issues using the 2014 version today.
 

S Hone

Posts: 57   +57
If it's a security risk to have on a computer after five years, it's hardly perpetual.


This was standard practise in the software industry for decades... Businesses were unhappy moving to subscription models and were hesitant in moving away from perpetual... Guess what? Most of them had to pay yearly for support which actually was not far from the price of a subscription.... Some less critical sofware can be supported by internal teams without the added expense...

Anyway, point being is that this good and normal.
 

duckofdeath

Posts: 359   +452
This was standard practise in the software industry for decades... Businesses were unhappy moving to subscription models and were hesitant in moving away from perpetual... Guess what? Most of them had to pay yearly for support which actually was not far from the price of a subscription.... Some less critical sofware can be supported by internal teams without the added expense...

Anyway, point being is that this good and normal.
I'm not discussing the practice, I'm discussing the misleading marketing they use by calling something definite, infinite.
 

S Hone

Posts: 57   +57
I'm not discussing the practice, I'm discussing the misleading marketing they use by calling something definite, infinite.

Well you just dont appear to be experienced in the IT business... this is perfectly normal and not misleading in business generally and works out a lot cheaper overall than subscription models, generally.

If they called it something else, it would be wrong and misleading / make no sense.

This is literally the global name for software licences that dont expire... and support is a seperate item beyond the initial period... you could even opt for no support
 

terzaerian

Posts: 894   +1,287
Moved over to LibreOffice 7.0 and haven't looked back. They too have a perpetual price structure .... it's free......free, free, free ........ just like is says in that commercial!
I'm pretty sure 90% of the businesses and end users paying for Word could get by on LibreOffice just fine. Which I'm sure is why MS decided not to pivot to subscriptions - they know they'd get their lunches completely eaten.
 

S Hone

Posts: 57   +57
I'm pretty sure 90% of the businesses and end users paying for Word could get by on LibreOffice just fine. Which I'm sure is why MS decided not to pivot to subscriptions - they know they'd get their lunches completely eaten.

99% of those businesses are aware of free options and still decide to pay. Why might that be?

Its not because they are stupid.
 

duckofdeath

Posts: 359   +452
Well you just dont appear to be experienced in the IT business... this is perfectly normal and not misleading in business generally and works out a lot cheaper overall than subscription models, generally.

If they called it something else, it would be wrong and misleading / make no sense.

This is literally the global name for software licences that dont expire... and support is a seperate item beyond the initial period... you could even opt for no support
The perfectly normal license name is called "stand alone". The one they used to sell it with since the dawn of times. This is not perfectly normal, it's a gaffe by some marketing department person and it'll most likely come back and haunt their legal department a few years after that "perpetual" time expires.
 

McKocoa

Posts: 30   +44
Still have yet to go office 365. No plans to. I refuse to sign up for subscription models like this. We are stubborn in my office. Running word perfect and MS office 13. I will only buy cheap single use licenses or take my business elsewhere. MS needs to be careful, they're not the only game in town.
 

DonquixoteIII

Posts: 88   +50
I think that upgrading to Libre Office just might be the ticket. But I do need to check if the 2021 version is TRULY standalone.
 

bobc4012

Posts: 142   +55
99% of those businesses are aware of free options and still decide to pay. Why might that be? Its not because they are stupid.
FUD is the reason plus some retraining. I've used both Office and LibreOffice as well as a few others, going back to Visicalc, As Easy As, DynaCalc, etc. The current LibreOffice Calc can handle nearly everything Excel does. I am not aware of anything Word can do that LibreOffice Write can't. I actually prefer LibreOffice Writer to MS Office Word, but prefer MS Office Excel to LibreOffice Calc, not because Calc can't handle what I do, but because I prefer the Excel user I/Fs over the LO Calc I/Fs. The opposite is true with Word. I prefer LO Writer over MS Word. One thing about retraining - an area where management often makes stupid decisions in investing in an initial cost that would significantly save long-term costs - "we don't have a budget for it now (training)", "it will take too long for our people to get up to speed", "reluctance by those in the office to learn a different package" and many other insignificant reasons in IMO.
 

amghwk

Posts: 1,036   +952
I dumped MS Office long back when there's a free, equally powerful LibreOffice.

Companies are suckers because they prefer to pay Microsoft rather than re-training their staff to use a free alternative. Anyway, those staff who are used to MSOffice wouldn't take too long to get used to LibreOffice. At the most, they just need to identify the positions of their favorite tool icons.

Why pay for a subscription when you can essentially do the same thing for free?
 

VEGGIM

Posts: 35   +7
I dumped MS Office long back when there's a free, equally powerful LibreOffice.

Companies are suckers because they prefer to pay Microsoft rather than re-training their staff to use a free alternative. Anyway, those staff who are used to MSOffice wouldn't take too long to get used to LibreOffice. At the most, they just need to identify the positions of their favorite tool icons.

Why pay for a subscription when you can essentially do the same thing for free?
Doesn't office also include cloud storage? Correct me if I'm wrong. Some people I do know use word and the cloud storage.
 

captaincranky

Posts: 16,743   +5,476
Calling it perpetual when support is limited to five years is a bit misleading, innit?
Why are you so intent on starting a semantic war?
The license and activation are "perpetual". While the security updates are not.

I can still get a copy of Windows XP >re-activated<, long after itssupport has ended. In fact, I can still get the security updates from M$' servers as well.

After a certain point, you have to pay attention to the sign you read at any amusement park when you were a kd: "ride at your own risk".
 

hwertz

Posts: 33   +17
"Calling it perpetual when support is limited to five years is a bit misleading, innit?"
Yeah, but that's compared to the "365" version where they'll change anything in the app at any time they want, usage or interface-wise; whereas Office 2021 will be like the previous (non-365) Office releases where the updates will be bug fixes and security fixes, not moving stuff around just because.

Anyway.. I use Linux and Libreoffice anyway. But, if I were stuck with Microsoft, I'd much prefer to get an office suite and be done with it than to pay monthly, quarterly, or yearly, until the end of time.
 
Seem to be a number who don't appear to have a good grasp of how a lot of software licencing in the real (business) world works.

A perpetual licence is simply a licence which you pay for once and it never expires. You don't have to keep paying to use the software. As some have pointed out, this was how a lot of software used to be sold back in the days of Windows 3.1 (I've used every version of Windows from Windows 1.0).

The real world has moved on a lot since then.

The software licence has nothing to do with support. Perpetual licenses, such as most Solidworks products, often come with a mandatory initial support subscription. That entitles you to support and updates. That is NOT perpetual and expires. When it expires your access to support and updates ends unless you renew your subscription.

If you choose NOT to renew your support subscription you won't get support or updates BUT you CAN keep using the software.

Subscription software licences are very different. You only get to use the software for as long as you pay the subscription. If you do not keep renewing your subscription - I.e. paying - when it expires your right to use the software ends and it stops working.

A subscription may be monthly, yearly or some other fixed period of time. What ever the term (length of time) is, the fixed "feature" is that the software only keeps working for as long as you keep paying. This is best thought of not as "buying" software, more "software as a service". You only get the service for as long as you keep paying for it.

This "subscription" model is disliked by many. However, that doesn't mean it is univerally "bad".

Typical examples of subscription licences are what used to be Office 365 (now called Microsoft 365) and Zemax (very expensive optical modelling software).

With Zemax OpticStudio you're talking about sums like £4,500 per year for a single user licence (which cannot be shared). Network subcription licences for it are 50% more per user. Stop paying and it stops working.

One aspect of Microsoft 365 subcriptions not appreciated by those not involving in running business IT is that most Microsoft 365 customers are NOT just paying for Office. The Office suite is just one part. The other key feature are all the Azure based services such as Exchange Online. You don't need to run your own on-premises mail servers. You also get a raft of tools for mail security policies, GDPR, regulatory data retention policies etc etc etc.

And by the way, you have always been able to buy "stand alone" Microsoft Office - the old style "perpetual". You install it, activate it (activation being a feature which came in when software distribution moved from physical media, floppys/CD etc, to downloads) and you can keep using it without having to pay again. The difference is there is almost no support. There is also no guarantee of any updates.

That is the "new" bit of the Office "perpetual" licence. You pay once but you do do get some promises about support and updates.