Microsoft has finally confirmed what was long suspected. There will be another fixed price, perpetual licence version of Microsoft Office. The successor to Office 2019 will be released in late 2021 for Windows and Mac.
Update in late 2021: of course we now know it’s called Office 2021 All about Office 2021 for Windows & Mac or Office LTSC Office LTSC 2021 explained, the good and bad
There’s already been a lot of ill-informed comment about the next ‘fixed’ Office release.
It’s not a surprise that Office 2019 will be upgraded. It was pretty much inevitable that Microsoft would be forced to continue their perpetual licence product line.
As we’ve mentioned before, Microsoft would very much prefer all customers (individual, business, education and governments) to use their Microsoft 365 annual payment plans. The yearly payment ‘subscription’ is much more profitable for Microsoft so they do everything they can to push that as the ‘only’ option.
But Microsoft also knows there are volume customers who resist the constant changes to Office software and the ongoing costs of annual plans. They will release perpetual licence versions of Office for as long as there is significant demand. If Microsoft stopped fixed price Office releases, those customers would defect to a non-Microsoft office suite and that’s something Redmond can’t allow.
Though it’ll be released in the second half of 2021, the new Office will probably be called Office
It would be unlike Microsoft to miss such an obvious marketing trick. Calling the release ‘Office 2021’ risks people thinking it’s outdated after only a few months. After all, Office 2019 went public in September 2018.
Update in late 2021: turns out Microsoft wants people to think perpetual licence Office is outdated, so they went with Office 2021.
Who will buy it?
The major target audience for Office 2021 is volume licence customers using Office 2016.
These customers have resisted the pressure to move to Office 2019 or Microsoft 365. They are sticking to the tried and true policy of upgrading to every second version of Office.
Beyond Office 2021?
Will there be an Office 2024? Another perpetual licence version of Office.
Quietly, Microsoft hopes not. The company would much prefer to dump the entire range of perpetual licence products and bank on annual tribute payments from all their customers.