The age of subscription services may be well upon us, but Microsoft isn't liable to leave any revenue sources on the table. The company today started rolling out its Office LTSC (Long Term Servicing Channel) for Windows and macOS, which is a version of Office specifically geared for government and commercial clients who don't find value in the company's cloud elements for Office 365, and whose systems might go without any service update for years at a time. Baked into that announcement, however, was also the commercial release of Office 2021 for general consumers. Mark the date: October 5, 2021. That's the same day as the Windows 11 launch.
Jared Spataro, Corporate Vice President for Microsoft 365, said that "While it [Office 2021] offers performance improvements and expanded accessibility, it will not offer the cloud-based capabilities of Microsoft 365 Apps like real-time collaboration and AI-driven automation in Word, Excel, and PowerPoint, as well as security and compliance capabilities that give added confidence in a hybrid world."
The standalone, perpetual license version of Office 2021 includes a number of performance and feature improvements (opens in new tab), including Dark Mode support as well as support for version 1.3 of the OpenDocument format. Four new Excel functions will be made available (XLOOKUP, LET, XMATCH and dynamic arrays); PowerPoint will introduce support for presenter video recording, ink recording, and laser pointer recording; and of course, all Office 2021 apps will see a visual language update to keep them in line with the new Windows 11 interface and design philosophy.
Microsoft will offer five years of "Mainstream Support" for Office 2021, and there are no plans for extended support programs beyond October 2026 - a year after support ends for both Office 2016 and Office 2019, which have enjoyed longer mainstream support commitments from Microsoft.
The company also announced that pricing will remain the same for Office 2021 as compared to previous versions of Office which means $150 for the Office Home & Student (opens in new tab) version, and $250 for a single Office Home & Business (opens in new tab) license.