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Microsoft to release new versions of its Office clients and on-premises servers in H2 2021

New perpetual Office clients for Windows and Mac, as well as on-premises versions of Exchange, SharePoint and Skype for Business are coming in the second half of next year.
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Written by Mary Jo Foley, Contributor on

Microsoft is readying new versions of Office for Windows and Mac, as well as for Exchange Server, SharePoint Server, and Skype for Business for release in the second half of 2021. The catch? The server products only will be available if customers purchase a subscription license, which will entitle them to get support, product updates, and time-zone patches. 

Also: Microsoft 365: A cheat sheet TechRepublic

Microsoft officials said in their Ignite 2020 announcement that they will share details around names, pricing, and exact availability "later." As Office 365 expert Tony Redmond noted, instead of the current CAL-based licensing model, like Office 365 licenses, customers will pay a monthly fee to continue using Exchange on-premises (or SharePoint or Skype for Business) for the 2021 versions.

The next version of Exchange Server coming in 2021 will support in-place upgrades from Exchange Server 2019 for roughly two years following release, according to a Sept. 22 blog post. It also will continue to support side-by-side deployment and migration from older versions of Exchange (2013, 2016 or 2019). 

Also: Microsoft 365 (formerly Office 365) vs G Suite: Which is best for business? 

Microsoft released what it calls the perpetual versions of its Office clients and on-premises Office servers in 2018 -- which were branded 2019. At that point, officials wouldn't say whether Microsoft would release more on-premises versions of its Office products in the future.

Update: It looks like Microsoft officials did confirm there would be another Office client update after Office 2019 via a blog post in September 2018 at Ignite.

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