In brief: Microsoft has a lot of happy Microsoft 365 and Office 365 users, with over a million organizations on the former and over 300 million seats on the latter service. However, a lot of people and companies depend on and prefer the "perpetual" version of Office, and that's coming alongside Windows 11 next month.
Last year, Microsoft gave many people hope when it said that it hadn't given up on the standalone version of Office. At the time, this was only mentioned in a one-liner buried in announcements from Microsoft Ignite 2020, but now the "perpetual" version of Office has an official release date -- October 5.
Microsoft will also be launching Windows 11 on that day, and it looks like the next-generation, non-subscription version of Office will debut alongside it. The company didn't go into more detail, so we'll have to wait a few more weeks before we get the full reveal.
Microsoft is also making the Long Term Servicing Channel (LTSC) available today for commercial and government users on both Windows and Mac. This is the other non-subscription version of Office that offers only the essential features present in Microsoft 365 and Office 365, as it's designed for specific, regulated scenarios. In other words, this is a locked-in-time Office suite for devices that aren't connected to the Internet or act as process control devices on the factory floor.
Notable features that will come to both Office LTSC and are likely to end up in Office 2021 include support for Dark Mode, Line Focus for Word documents, dynamic arrays in Excel, and an XLOOKUP function to make it easier to find things when searching through tables.
It's also important to note that both Office 2021 and Office LTSC will come with five years of support. And the good news is that Microsoft confirmed there will be at least one more "perpetual" version of Office in the future. Pricing information is not yet available as of writing this, but the company is also making Project and Visio available.
For people who are interested in the next version of on-premises Exchange Server, Skype for Business Server, Project Server, and SharePoint Server, Microsoft says it will have more to share later this year.
Otherwise, Microsoft still recommends that most people use Office 365 and Microsoft 365, which bring a host of cloud and collaboration features, as well as AI-based automation tools. If you're a small or medium-sized company, you should know that Microsoft will increase prices on these subscriptions starting next year.