19 March 2021
There is no doubt that Microsoft would love to see all of its business customers move to subscription-based and cloud-powered Office 365 suite of applications but in reality, there are many users who do not want to go that road. This is the reason it keeps on releasing stand-alone Office products at regular intervals. In an attempt to cater to those customers in a better way, it has now announced two versions: Office 2021 and Office LTSC.
Microsoft Office 2021 is your standard set of software that we have been seeing for years and is an upgrade over the currently available Office 2019. As for Microsoft Office Long Term Servicing Channel (LTSC), it is specifically aimed at business customers for specific scenarios. It says it will be a perfect fit for customers with "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."
Both these Office versions will get Microsoft support for a period of five years. This is slightly disappointing as the official support previously used to last for seven years. It says that while Office 2021 will arrive later this year, a commercial preview of Office LTSC will be made available in April with a full release coming later this year. Both these versions are compatible with Windows as well as Mac devices. Another good thing is that the team will provide both 32-bit and 64-bit versions of the software.
The official announcement has not detailed Office 2021 features just yet but has offered a glimpse of what to expect from the LTSC version. Some of these include "accessibility improvements, capabilities like Dynamic Arrays and XLOOKUP in Excel, dark mode support across multiple apps, and performance improvements across Word, Excel, Outlook, and PowerPoint."
Microsoft has set the Office 2021 pricing the same for both personal and small business customers. However, it will charge 10% extra for individual Office app purchases, Office Professional Plus, and Office Standard buyers.