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Microsoft commits to deliver next Office client, servers by second half 2018

Yes, Virginia, there will be another version of the Microsoft Office perpetual client, as well as SharePoint, Exchange, and Skype for Business Servers, all coming in the latter half of 2018.
Written by Mary Jo Foley, Senior Contributing Editor on

Microsoft is going to ship new on-premises releases of Office client, SharePoint Server, Exchange Server, and Skype for Business Server in the second half of calendar 2018.

Credit: ZDNet

Microsoft officials announced its plans during its Ignite IT Pro conference in Orlando on September 26.

Microsoft will offer a public preview version of the next version of the Office client, which will be named Office 2019, by mid-2018, according to a company blog post. Microsoft calls this non-subscription version of Office its "perpetual" client release.

Office 2019 will add features like improved inking (pressure sensitivity, tilt effects, ink replay); new data analysis features like new formulas and charts for Excel; and new visual-animation features like PowerPoint Morph and Zoom. On the server side, Microsoft will be adding more manageability, usability, voice and security features, officials said. Microsoft will provide a more detailed feature list for all of the new releases closer to availability.

Microsoft officials said earlier this week that the company was planning to deliver a new on-premises version of Skype for Business Server in 2018, while starting to migrate Skype for Business Online users to Microsoft Teams.

The features that will be adding to the on-premises versions of Office client and servers are already available or soon will be in the cloud/online versions of the products.

Microsoft Office general manager Jared Spataro wouldn't say whether Microsoft has plans to provide more on-premises releases of the Office products beyond the late 2018 versions. He said the company is taking its cues from its customers on that front.

A support announcement from Microsoft from earlier this year had some customers confused about whether the company would continue to enable customers using the perpetual Office client to access Microsoft server products. Some took Microsoft's announcement that its preferred Office client was the subscription-based Office 365 Pro Plus to mean that the company wouldn't continue to support Office perpetual users after 2020.

Spataro reiterated that this is not the case.

As previously stated, as of October 13, 2020, Office 365 ProPlus will be the only fully featured, most up-to-date client that will connect to Office 365 services. (The key words here are "fully featured.")

Anyone using perpetual Office apps and clients won't get all the features at the time they are available to Office 365 ProPlus users, but they will continue to be able to use Exchange, SharePoint and Skype for Business services, Spataro said. Some features in Office, such as the PowerPoint Designer technologies, for instance, will only work with the subscription version of Office because they require back-end cloud connectivity, he noted.

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