Office LTSC 2021 is the new version of Microsoft Office for organizations and volume customers. Here’s what we know, the good news and bad news.
What the !*@&$ 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 2021 is now available 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 2021?
It’s the next perpetual, single payment or non-subscription version of Microsoft Office for organizations and volume licence customers.
Office LTSC 2021 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 2021 it can also have:
- Outlook LTSC
- Access LTSC (Windows only)
- Publisher LTSC (Windows only)
There are also be LTSC releases of Project and Visio.
What’s new in Office LTSC 2021?
Microsoft has just a short list of 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
We’ve checked Microsoft’s new feature list against the actual software in our lists of new and better features in Office 2021 and Office LTSC plus
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 2021 does not have any cloud based features like Excel data types (Stock prices etc). But Stock images etc is included as well as Translation.
In short, it will be Office 2019 plus a few, selected, additions.
Is Office LTSC 2021 different from Office 2021?
There are some differences between the features in Office 2021 and Office LTSC 2021. Mostly the two packages are the same but Office LTSC does NOT have these Office 2021 changes:
- October 2021 ‘Visual Refresh’ was for Office 2021 and Office 365 only.
- Co-authoring documents is NOT in Office LTSC 2021 — a major omission.
- that includes showing who is working/viewing a shared document.
- Modern Comments (with Replies and Threads)
- Excel Sheet View
- Excel Accessibility Ribbon
- PowerPoint link to a slide
What is Office LTSC 2021 for?
Who might use Office LTSC 2021? 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 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 or organizations. 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 2021 is available for Windows and Mac desktops.
32-bit and 64-bit versions for Windows. Only 64-bit for Mac.
Windows 10 or Windows 11 is required for Office LTSC 2021, same as Office 2019. There are also Windows LTSC releases 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 2021
The current prices for the 2019 versions Office Professional Plus, Office Standard and individual apps have INcreased by 10% for Office LTSC 2021.
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 2021 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.
Office LTSC 2021 is available now for volume licence customers.