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Microsoft Office began scaling new heights in 2011 when it released its Office 365. It was the first time users could access tools like Excel, Word, and PowerPoint as part of a subscription offer.
Another big thing that makes Microsoft stand out is that it has lived up to its promise of rolling out frequent updates since that year. Before then, it provided updates to its features only once in several years.
Less than half a decade after its release, Office 365 became the leading enterprise cloud service. Even after its name change to Microsoft 365, its core service has continued to delight people from all walks of life. The offerings include OneDrive, Outlook, and Microsoft Teams.
Despite Microsoft 365 success, every few years continue to witness the company rolling out stand-alone versions. That way, it tries to cater to the emerging technological needs of its users.
As seen earlier, Microsoft Office is the most popular suite of tools among students, employees, executives, entrepreneurs, and other people. While Apple has an alternative that features Pages, Numbers, and Keynote features, Mac users still find the Microsoft Office irresistible. For this reason, both Mac and Windows and eagerly looking forward to seeing what Microsoft Office’s next version has to offer.
Just like most software companies, Microsoft Office comes with a subscription edition- Office 365. The team at Microsoft regularly spice up this version with the latest features. However, some people loathe the idea of having to pay monthly, quarterly, yearly, and similar subscriptions to use the software.
An old MS Word version is good enough for people who don’t need a new feature. Office 365 may not be suitable for professionals working in projects where frequent upgrades might bring in more issues and disrupt their work processes.
Similarly, some professionals are comfortable working outside the cloud. Since Office 365 is cloud-based, these people will embrace a solution that doesn’t require them to move to the cloud.
As an understanding business partner, Microsoft recognizes people’s needs. That’s why during the release of Office 2019, it assured the world that the future would witnesses more releases of the perpetual licensed version. And in February 2021, it revealed in a blog that it plans to roll out two versions of Office:
According to Jared Spataro, Microsoft 365’s Corporate VC, late 2021 will witness the entrance of the Office 2021 suite of tools ( Excel, Word, Outlook, and PowerPoint)for both small businesses and consumers. Both macOS and Windows users will have their versions for this new release.
That implies you should expect this new version between now and December 2021. But based on the release dates of previous versions like Office 2016 and 2019, September is the month to watch for the arrival of this new kid on the block.
Spataro also pointed out that at the time of Office 2021’s release, its price will be similar to its predecessor, Office 2019. Currently, here are the costs of Office 2019:
A license for each variant is available for one Mac or PC. They both come with the existing stand-alone variants of Excel, Word, Outlook, and PowerPoint. The user also enjoys 60 days of support. With the incoming Office 2021, expect these arrangements to remain intact.
You will be able to purchase the new version as a perpetual license- you’ll not have to sign up for a yearly subscription to use it. With this license, be sure to enjoy support service for five years straight.
Also, you’ll need to buy LTSC for each of your computers. The good thing is that for both Office 2021 and LTSC, you’ll not have to renew the license after buying it. Additionally, Microsoft plans to release another stand-alone version that doesn’t come with subscriptions.
When Microsoft begins to sale the new version, expect their charges for Office Standard, Office Professional Plus, and related apps to increase by a tenth of the current prices.
Currently, the company has not said much about Office 2021 offerings. But they’ve promised to release Office LTSC’s review come April this year to shed more light on the new features that people should expect.
However, they have already hinted at including the following features in the Office LTSC:
So far, it’s believed that the improved dark mode is the main change to expect in Microsoft Office’s sleek User Interface. Otherwise, expect the UI to remain intact in most areas.
Office 365 users were already enjoying the dark mode, but not on the stand-alone version. The new version will even be darker, and elements like text will acquire darker hues too. They’ll add a ‘Switch Modes’ button at the top of the page (View Menu) to allow users to select their preference.
Office LTSC users will be downloading Skype for Business and Microsoft Team app separately from Microsoft Download Center.
Expect to meet OneNote in both Office 2021 and Office LTSC in both 32-bit and 64-bit versions.
In March, Microsoft Word will unleash a ‘Text Prediction’ feature- it’ll predict words based on what you type. The 2021 Office will most probably acquire this feature too. Outlook’s web-based version already has this feature.
The functionality works if you begin typing in a common phrase that the software can recognize. For instance, if you start writing “Better late than,” the Word will predict the next word to be “never” since it recognizes the phrase “Better late than never.”
The predicted phrases will be grey. If the user agrees with Word’s suggestion, they need to hit the Tab key to accept it.
The main difference between these two versions will be how users pay for them. As pointed out earlier, the incoming version will be yours to keep indefinitely after a one-time purchase. And the price will not likely change at the time of availability. However, Microsoft support for every version usually lasts for only five years.
On the other hand, Microsoft 365 users will continue to cough out a periodic subscription fee, currently standing at USD 69.99 per year. So if you’re looking for a one-off purchase solution rather than a cloud-based subscription, the Microsoft 2021 will work for you.
However, while both have the regular Excel, PowerPoint Outlook, Word, and One Note apps, Microsoft 365 offers some extras- 1TB OneDrive storage and Skype. You can also access these offerings via the web if you subscribe to Microsoft Teams.
Another thing is that Microsoft 365 offers regular updates at least once every month. The updates usually bring the latest features, something which the stand-alone version tend to lack. On the other hand, Office 2021 updates will tend to be focusing heavily on security patches.
According to The Hindu, the company’s main drive to create an enterprise Office is to cater for particular circumstances, such as:
It’s expected that most users who utilize Office LTSC will only do it in specific circumstances rather than across their whole company. And the icing on the cake is that you don’t have to change your deployment tools when using both Microsoft 365 and Office LTSC.
Users will likely part with an additional 10% in price to use Office Standard and Office Professional Plus once the company avails them.
Although most companies have been migrating to cloud-based solutions, there are professionals and individuals whose needs tie them to non-cloud solutions. So Microsoft Office 2021 is the perfect answer for these users.
Microsoft 365 head Jared Spataro stresses that Microsoft focuses on meeting users at their point of needs. He says that the last ten months have seen an exodus of users embracing the cloud-based Microsoft 365, but some users’ specific scenario still makes them hesitant to make the switch. Business owners and people handling speciality systems can now smile.
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