Microsoft has spent the last decade pushing customers to its cloud-based Microsoft 365 subscription service. And while the company is gearing up to release Office 2021 and Office LTSC with the traditional one-time purchase model, there’s a catch. Office 2021 and Office LTSC will not enjoy the 7-year support cycle seen with previous releases of the Office software suite.
The previous Office release, Office 2019, came with a 7-year support cycle to cover bugs and security vulnerabilities. But Microsoft is only offering 5 years of support for Office 2021 and Office LTSC. While this 5-year timeline isn’t a death-blow to the traditional Office software suite, it raises questions about how cost-effective Office really is. Microsoft says that Office 2021 will cost $250 (the same price as Office 2019), which is the same price that you’d pay for three years of Microsoft 365, a service that always sports the latest features and is accessible from any device at any time.
The business-oriented Office LTSC, on the other hand, will see a 10% price increase. Office LTSC (long-term support channel) is intended for businesses that need a stable, unchanging version of the Office software. Microsoft’s 5-year support timeline actually makes sense for Office LTSC, as the product will launch around the same time as Windows 10 LTSC and experience a similar lifecycle. Aligning the release and support timeline for Office LTSC and Windows 10 LTSC allows enterprise customers to upgrade their systems all in one go, which is easier and more cost-effective than staggering updates.
On the bright side, Office 2021 and Office LTSC will feature dark mode support, improved accessibility options, and other perks ported from Office 365. Both Office and Office LTSC will launch in the second half of 2021, with 32-bit and 64-bit versions available for Windows and macOS. Microsoft says that we should expect a Windows Preview version of Office LTSC in April.