Commercial Customers Can Now Test the Next Standalone Office

Posted on April 23, 2021 by Paul Thurrott in Office 365, Microsoft 365, Office with 6 Comments

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Microsoft announced that Office Long Term Servicing Channel (LTSC) for Windows and Office 2021 for Mac are now available in commercial preview ahead of an expected late 2021 launch.

“The next perpetual version of Office for commercial customers is built specifically for organizations running regulated devices that cannot accept feature updates for years at a time, process control devices that are not connected to the internet in manufacturing facilities, and specialty systems that must stay locked in time and require a long-term servicing channel,” the Microsoft 365 team explains in the announcement post. “Office LTSC will provide the familiar productivity tools you have experienced with Office 2019, now with faster performance and expanded accessibility.”

Microsoft previously announced its plans for Office 2021 in February, when it noted that it would be supported for five years and offer customers that need such a thing with a way to make traditional one-time Office purchases. It also said that it would not raise the price when compared to Office 2019.

This week, Microsoft is explaining, again, these standalone versions of Office will offer a subset of the new functionality available to Microsoft 365 subscribers and that it will be deployed exclusively via Click-to-Run, just like Office 2019.

Commercial previews for SharePoint and Project Server will be available in the coming months. But those interested in testing the Office LTSC and Office 2021 for Mac previews today can visit the Microsoft Docs website to learn more.

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Comments (6)

6 responses to “Commercial Customers Can Now Test the Next Standalone Office”

  1. karlinhigh

    I'm glad to see Microsoft accepts that their products have use cases that will never have Internet connections as a matter of principle.

    However, I'll never forget trying to activate a post-2013 Office version in such a situation. This office edition DOES have a phone activation window; I'd seen it earlier when setting up a computer from an image or something, where it asked to reconfirm activation.

    I called Microsoft. How do I activate without an Internet connection? May I please have the dial-tone phone activation system? I was on and off hold for a long time. It reminded me of trying to get phone help from the USA's Internal Revenue Service tax agency, they even have curiously similar hold music.

    The computer had to come back to my office for activation, it all worked out OK in the end.

  2. hrlngrv

    I spend a lot of time in user-to-user support forums for Excel. Given all the stuff Excel 2019 lacks which Excel 365 has, I really can't see the appeal of perpetual licenses to enterprises other than the illusion of saving money. Even if not illusion, not much money.

    Lots of Office licenses on manufacturing control machines? Nothing like PowerPoint on a PC controlling industrial lathes?

    OTOH, does regulated devices encompass US financial services? That's my sector, but neither I nor any colleague in my location or my department uses a regulated device. Maybe corporate treasurer and comptroller department, but even that I doubt.

    IOW, I doubt the machines described are actually used to run any Office programs. That said, I could easily believe MSFT volume licensing and Software Assurance requires some of MSFT's enterprise customers to buy Office licenses for ALL machines with Windows licenses, and in MSFT's infinite benevolence they let machines which would never run Office have perpetual Office licenses.

    • wright_is

      In reply to hrlngrv:

      We use a lot of PCs on network segments that are not connected to the internet. Our production lines and labs have equipment and PCs to control them and the users have to fill out Excel worksheets, for example, with results or use worksheets with recipes in them to control the production processes. As some of the equipment is still controlled by Windows XP devices, for example, the networks, including the more modern workstations, are kept off the main network and only share a fileserver with the main network, for the exchange of production information. That file server is protected with AV software and firewalled, so that only the relevant SMB port in the production network is open for inbound or outbound traffic.

      The PCs on those networks need standalone copies of Office, as the Office 365 that we use in the rest of the business insists on reactivating itself at short intervals.

      • hrlngrv

        In reply to wright_is:

        I can accept that the PCs on those networks need Office, or perhaps just Excel, but do any of the Excel workbooks used on those PCs use any feature that wasn't provided in, say, Excel 2003? Or even Excel 95? IOW, do those PCs have any pressing need for the latest perpetually licensed Office version rather than the version the company you work for would have purchased a few decades ago?

  3. glenn8878

    I haven't upgraded my Office 2007 standalone software. I used to upgrade to every new version.

  4. compunut

    It will be interesting to see if Office 2021 can be activated without an Internet connection. Office 2019 standalone can NOT be activated over the phone. I have many licenses for Office 2019, but install Office 2016 for that reason. We are required to have supported software and we are required to have no Internet connection at all. If Office 2021 won't activate, we are going to have a conundrum...