Office 2021 is the next version of Microsoft Office for consumers and small businesses. Here’s what we know so far.
It’s what Microsoft calls a ‘perpetual licence’ version. A single payment for ongoing use of the software with no annual payments (aka ‘subscription). The replacement for Office 2019.
Office 2021 will be sold retail to individuals and small businesses. A similar product, Office LTSC, will be sold to volume licence customers.
Do NOT buy Office 2019 or Office 2021 if you have Microsoft 365 like Microsoft 365 Family (formerly Home), Microsoft 365 Personal or an enterprise plan. In other words, you pay for Office as an annual fee.
What is Office 2021?
It’s the next perpetual, single payment or non-subscription version of Microsoft Office for consumers and small businesses.
Office 2021 will include in all bundles:
- Word 2021
- Excel 2021
- PowerPoint 2021
Depending on the bundle / package of Office 2021 it can also have:
- Outlook 2021
- Access 2021 (Windows only)
- Publisher 2021 (Windows only)
OneNote is also included but it’s the same as in Office 2019.
What’s new in Office 2021?
Microsoft has confirmed these features will be added to Office 2021:
- Dynamic Arrays in Excel
- XLOOKUP() in Excel
- Dark mode support
- Line Focus added to Word’s Immersive Reader.
- Record a slide show with narration in PowerPoint.
- Performance improvements
- Accessibility improvements
Some other features may be added before public release. Once released, there will be no more features added, unlike Microsoft 365 annual plans
It’s unlikely that Office 2021 will have any cloud based features like Excel data types (Stock prices etc).
There’s now a public preview of Office 2021 for Mac (not Windows). See Office 2021 for Mac, your preview first look for some images from the preview.
Windows and Mac
Office 2021 will be available for Windows and Mac desktops.
32-bit and 64-bit versions for Windows. Only 64-bit for Mac.
Windows 10 is required for Office 2021, same as Office 2019.
MacOS, Microsoft’s policy is to support the current and past two MacOS releases. It will work with either Intel or M1 based Mac computers.
Office 2021 will only get bug fix and security patches for five years from release date (not date of purchase).
That’s two years less than Office 2019 and half the supposedly ‘fixed lifecycle’ policy announced by Microsoft itself.
Prices for Office 2021
Microsoft says “We do not plan to change the price for these products at the time of the release.”
Which sounds great but really means nothing. ‘do not plan to change the price’, still leaves open the possibility of ‘change of plans’. ‘at the time of the release’ means the price could change before or after Office 2021 is released.
Microsoft doesn’t want to sell Office 2021
Microsoft would very much prefer NOT to sell perpetual licence versions of Office. The high prices, reduced support and limited features are all signs of that. They only sell Office 2021 because Microsoft doesn’t want people to switch to non-Microsoft alternatives.
Microsoft 365 with it’s annual fee (aka ‘subscription’) is Microsoft’s preferred option. It’s more profitable for the company. With many cloud-based features, it’s harder for customers to switch away from Microsoft Office.
‘second half of 2021’ is all that Microsoft will say.