Microsoft said Thursday that it plans to launch Office 2021, a standalone version of Office 365, on Oct. 5—the same day as Windows 11 releases. It will include some, but not all of the features of Microsoft’s perpetually-updating cloud productivity service
Microsoft will release Office 2021 for personal and small business users “later this year,” Microsoft said in a blog post in February. On Thursday, Microsoft added the ship date of October 5. Microsoft also did not offer any other pricing guidance beyond what it had said in February, which was that it did not plan to change the prices for this new release. If true, that would price the cheapest version of Office 2021 at $150, the price Microsoft charges for Microsoft Office Home and Student 2019. (That version doesn’t include Microsoft Outlook, just Word, Excel, and PowerPoint.) There will be Office 2021 versions for both the Mac and Windows, Microsoft said.
Since Microsoft began releasing its standalone or, as it calls them, “one-time purchases” or “perpetual” versions of its Office software, they’ve shipped with a limited set of features and support. They are designed for customers who feel that the ongoing updates of a Microsoft 365 subscription don’t add value to their purchase, or who can’t or won’t pay for an ongoing subscription. Office 2021 will be supported for five years, Microsoft said.
Microsoft’s February blog post declined to say which features would be included or excluded from Office 2021’s consumer version. Microsoft’s commercial version, known as the Microsoft Office Long Term Servicing Channel (LTSC), may offer some clues, however. That version will 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 said. The LTSC version (and possibly Office 2021 as well) will also “not offer the cloud-based capabilities of Microsoft 365 Apps like real-time collaboration and AI-driven automation in Word, Excel, and PowerPoint,” Microsoft said.
The next version of Office will not ship with the Skype for Business client app, which will be available as a download in the Microsoft Download Center. It will instead ship with the Microsoft Teams app, “allowing customers to enable and trial this experience if they so choose,” Microsoft added.
Unlike with the consumer version of Office, whose price remains unchanged, Microsoft said it will increase the price of its LTSC versions—Office Professional Plus, Office Standard, and the individual Office apps—by up to 10 percent at the time of general availability in the second half of 2021.
Microsoft’s corporate vice president of Office 365, Jared Spataro, formally confirmed that there would be a new version of Office LTSC in the future, but he did not make that same explicit promise for the consumer version. Microsoft’s September blog post simply stated that “this will not be our last perpetual release” of Office.
This story was updated on Sept. 16 to add the shipping date of Office 2021 plus additional details.