Microsoft announced last week that the latest edition of perpetual-license Office for commercial and government clients is now available.
The new Office suite, dubbed “Office LTSC 2021” (as in “Long-term Support Channel”), was created as a subset of Office 365’s feature catalogue (and its more expensive, expansive sibling, Microsoft 365) that, once published, will remain unchanged until support runs out.
“Keep in mind that Office LTSC 2021 only provides some, but not all, of the capabilities offered in Office versions that come with a Microsoft 365 (or Office 365) plan,” Microsoft cautioned in a support page. “Now that Office LTSC 2021 has been released, no additional features will be added.”
These are just a few of the Office LTSCs that Microsoft has long used to portray the perpetual licence as second-class (or even third-class) in comparison to the rent-not-buy Office 365 and Microsoft 365. Microsoft likes customers to choose the subscription plans of those latter product names because the revenue is, first and foremost, never-ending and, second, consistent and thus predictable (more or less) in advance). It explicitly imposes policies on perpetual licence versions or restricts what the software can perform in order to encourage people to subscribe to the service.
This iteration’s most noticeable new limitation? Support will be drastically reduced: Office LTSC 2021 will only be supported for five years, half as long as previous Office suites (and two years shorter than the truncated-before-launch Office 2019). Office LTSC 2021 will be supported until October 13, 2026, according to Microsoft’s support lifecycle portal.
Security updates, and seemingly only security updates, will be provided as part of that support. Microsoft stated on an online instructional page that “Microsoft would not offer code updates to repair non-security related vulnerabilities.”
One of the most perplexing limitations of Office LTSC 2021 is the lack of a complete licence for Teams, Microsoft’s most-hyped product/service since the start of the COVID-19 epidemic in early 2020. Microsoft stated that “Office LTSC 2021 includes the Teams client app, but just the free or exploratory service for Microsoft Teams.”
For instance, Teams Exploratory is a 12-month trial that needs clients to upgrade to a Microsoft 365 plan in order to keep using the collaboration platform.
Office LTSC 2021 is only available through volume licencing and is available in a variety of Windows and macOS editions. The Windows version will run on both Windows 10 and Windows 11, which will be released on October 5th.
The consumer and small business versions of Office LTSC 2021 will also be available on that day. It will be the only version offered at retail or directly from Microsoft for non-volume licencing clients, and will be called “Office 2021,” breaking a naming tradition by using the current year for a suite released in that year’s second half.
While the price of Office 2021 will remain the same as that of its predecessor, Microsoft has already confirmed that the cost of Office LTSC 2021 would increase by 10%.