Office LTSC is the next version of Microsoft Office for organizations and volume customers. Here’s what we know so far the good news and bad news.
What is LTSC?
Office LTSC means Long Term Servicing Channel.
It’s a new name for what Microsoft calls a ‘perpetual licence’ version. A single payment for ongoing use of the software with no annual payments (aka ‘subscription).
Office LTSC will be sold to volume licence customers. A similar product, Office 2021, will retail to individuals and small business.
Do NOT buy Office LTSC 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 LTSC?
It’s the next perpetual, single payment or non-subscription version of Microsoft Office for organizations and volume licence customers.
Office LTSC will include in all bundles:
- Word LTSC
- Excel LTSC
- PowerPoint LTSC
- OneNote app, which will not changed from the Office 2019 version.
Depending on the bundle / package of Office LTSC it can also have:
- Outlook LTSC
- Access LTSC (Windows only)
- Publisher LTSC (Windows only)
There will also be LTSC releases of Project and Visio.
What’s new in Office LTSC?
Microsoft has only given broad hints about what’s in the commercial Office LTSC release:
- Dynamic Arrays in Excel
- XLOOKUP() in Excel
- Dark mode support
- Line Focus in Word’s Immersive Reader
- Performance improvements
- Accessibility improvements
Teams app will be included with Office LTSC.
Skype for Business will not be included in Office LTSC but can still be downloaded separately.
Office LTSC won’t have any cloud based features like Excel data types (Stock prices etc).
In short, it will be Office 2019 plus a few, selected, additions.
What is Office LTSC for?
Who might use Office LTSC? There are two answers to that question … Microsoft’s preferred and self-serving answer and the real answer that applies to paying customers.
According to Microsoft, Office LTSC is a specialty release for a very narrow set of needs:
- regulated devices that cannot accept feature updates for years at a time
- process control devices on the manufacturing floor that are not connected to the internet
- specialty systems that must stay locked in time
Microsoft says that is expects most customers will only use Office LTSC in specific situations with Microsoft 365 being the main product deployed by organizations.
Of course, Microsoft would say that because Microsoft 365 is more profitable for the company in the short and long terms, compared with Office 2019 or Office LTSC.
Organizations might prefer Office LTSC or the current Office 2019 for reasons Microsoft won’t mention.
Many staff and admins prefer a fixed feature Microsoft Office. The regular feature updates that Microsoft boasts about aren’t always great for customers. There are substantial additional costs in deploying, training and supporting constantly changing software.
There’s a lot to be said for using a stable unchanging base of core software that works for several years without changes or ‘surprises’.
Windows and Mac
Office LTSC 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 LTSC, same as Office 2019. There will also be a Windows LTSC release for volume customers.
MacOS, Microsoft’s policy is to support the current and past two MacOS releases.
Office LTSC 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.
Much shorter support life makes the next bit of Office LTSC news even more annoying …
Price increase for Office LTSC
The current prices for the 2019 versions Office Professional Plus, Office Standard and individual apps will INcrease by 10% when Office LTSC is released.
Microsoft doesn’t want to sell Office LTSC
Microsoft would very much prefer NOT to sell perpetual licence versions of Office like 2019 or LTSC. The high prices, reduced support and limited features are all signs of that. They only sell Office LTSC because Microsoft doesn’t want people to switch to Office 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. A preview version is due in April 2021.