Microsoft makes its non-subscription Office LTSC release available for Windows, Mac

Microsoft's new Office Long Term Servicing Channel (LTSC) release, which doesn't require a subscription but includes a subset of the features in Microsoft 365/Office 365, is now available to volume licensees worldwide.
Written by Mary Jo Foley, Senior Contributing Editor
Credit: Microsoft

Microsoft is making one of its two non-subscription-based, next-generation Office releases -- Office LTSC -- generally available on September 16. Office LTSC, or Long Term Servicing Channel, offers a subset of the features that are included in Microsoft 365/Office 365 Office releases and is meant for specific, regulated scenarios. Office LTSC is available globally to all volume-licensed customers starting today.

Microsoft's other non-subscription, next-generation Office release, known as Office 2021, which Microsoft is positioning as its consumer-focused, non-subscription release, will be available on October 5, officials said today. That date is no coincidence. Microsoft will be launching Windows 11 on October 5. Officials said more details about Office 2021 would be available at that time. So far, Microsoft officials have shared that Office 2021 will be limited to use on a single PC or Mac. They've also said previously that the pricing of the Office 2021 SKU won't change from the current Office perpetual SKU pricing.

Office LTSC will get five years of support total, as will Office 2021. Microsoft made a public preview of Office LTSC available in late April this year. Officials reiterated today that Office LTSC would not be Microsoft's last "perpetual" (non-subscription) version of Office.

Microsoft also is making its next releases of Project and Visio available today, September 16.

Office LTSC officials reminded potential customers today, is not for those simply trying to avoid feature updates or paying for subscriptions. It is meant to be used on "regulated devices" that cannot get feature updates, process-control devices in manufacturing and speciality systems that can't connect to the Internet. Office LTSC doesn't include cloud-based features of the Microsoft 365 versions of the Office apps, including real-time collaboration, AI-based automation in Word, Excel and PowerPoint and security and compliance features, officials said.

The core of the Office perpetual SKUs won't change: They will still include Word, Excel, PowerPoint, Outlook, OneNote, and other key apps. Office LTSC won't ship with the Skype for Business client, but the Skype for Business client app can be downloaded from the Microsoft Download Center for those who want/need it. Instead, the Teams app will be part of the suite.

In February, Microsoft officials said the price of the Commercial and Government SKUs (Office Standard and Office Professional Plus) would increase by 10%, and the price of individual apps would increase by 12% starting October 1st, 2021. There will also be a 10% price increase for EDU customers for these Office SKUs.

What about the next generation, on-premises Office servers? Last year, Microsoft officials announced the next versions of the on-prem Exchange Server, SharePoint Server, Skype for Business Server, and Project Server would be available in the second half of 2021. The catch: All would require a subscription to get support, product updates, and security updates. So far, as far as I know, only SharePoint Server Subscription Edition is available to testers. I've asked Microsoft for an update on the other coming on-premises servers; no word back so far.

Update: A spokesperson said, "We'll share details on SharePoint Server, Project Server, Skype for Business Server and Exchange Server later this year."

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