Microsoft last week announced the availability of the next edition of perpetual-licence Office for commercial and government customers.
Dubbed 'Office LTSC 2021' -- as in 'Long-term Support Channel -- the new Office suite was built as a subset of the feature catalog of Office 365 (and its more expensive, expansive sibling, Microsoft 365) that, once released, will live unchanged until it exhausts support.
"Keep in mind that Office LTSC 2021 includes only some, but not all, features that are available in versions of Office that come with a Microsoft 365 (or Office 365) plan," Microsoft warned in a support document. "Office LTSC 2021 won't receive any new features now that it has been released."
These characteristics are just some of Office LTSC's that Microsoft has long used to cast the perpetual licence as second-class (or even third-class) when compared to the rent-not-buy Office 365 and Microsoft 365.
Microsoft vastly prefers customers opt for the subscription plans of those latter product names because the revenue is first, never-ending and second, regular and thus knowable (more or less) in advance). It openly puts policies on perpetual licence versions or limits what the software can do to push customers toward subscriptions.
The most notable new limitation to this iteration? A dramatic decrease in support: Office LTSC 2021 will be supported for only five years, half the time of most past Office suites (and two years shorter than the truncated-before-launch Office 2019). According to Microsoft's support lifecycle site, Office LTSC 2021 will receive support to October 13, 2026.
That support will consist of security updates and apparently only security updates. "Microsoft won't provide code fixes to resolve non-security related problems," the company spelled out on an online informational page.
One of the most puzzling constraints on Office LTSC 2021 is its exclusion of a full licence to Teams, the most-hyped product/service in Microsoft's inventory since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic in early 2020. "Office LTSC 2021 includes the Teams client app, but only includes the free or the Exploratory service for Microsoft Teams," Microsoft acknowledged.
Teams Exploratory, for example, is a 12-month trial that requires customers to upgrade to a Microsoft 365 plan to continue using the collaboration platform.
Office LTSC 2021 is available only via volume licensing and comes in versions of differing composition for Windows and macOS. The Windows version will run on both Windows 10 and the impending Windows 11, which is to debut October 5.
That date will also be the release date for the consumer and small business version of Office LTSC 2021. Named 'Office 2021' -- breaking a naming precedent by using the current year for a suite introduced in that year's second half -- it will be the only edition available at retail or direct from Microsoft for non-volume licensing customers.
While prices for Office 2021 will remain the same as its 2019 predecessor, Microsoft has already stated that costs for Office LTSC 2021 will be boosted by 10 per cent. Microsoft has outlined the new in Office LTSC 2021 (and Office 2021) here.