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New Microsoft Office rollout: When you'll get it, pricing and major changes

If you don't want to subscribe to Microsoft 365, consumers and small businesses will be able to buy Office 2021 as a one-time purchase this fall.

The 2021 version of Microsoft Office won't require a subscription.

Microsoft's new, flat-price version of its Office productivity software started rolling out Oct. 5 -- the same day as Windows 11. The company previously emphasized that while its main focus remains on its Microsoft 365 subscription offering, it will release the one-time purchase Office 2021 for those who aren't yet ready to move to the cloud.

Office 2021 arrives in two versions: one for commercial users called Office LTSC (which stands for Long Term Servicing Channel), and one for personal use. Office LTSC includes enhanced accessibility features, performance improvements across Word, Excel and PowerPoint, and visual improvements like dark mode support across apps. It's meant for specialty situations, such as process control devices on the manufacturing floor that are not connected to the internet, as opposed to for entire organizations. 

Meanwhile, Office 2021 for personal use includes some Google Doc-style collaboration features that allow for real-time collaboration through OneDrive. Office 2021 users can also get access to Microsoft Teams, a redesigned look for the apps and features previously exclusive to Microsoft 365 like advanced grammar suggestions and Presenter Coach in PowerPoint. 

Office Home and Student 2021 is $150. It includes Word, Excel, PowerPoint, OneNote and Microsoft Teams for PC and Mac. Office Home and Business comes with everything from Office Home and Student, plus Outlook for PC and Mac, as well as the rights to use the apps for business purposes. Office Home and Business costs $250.

Both versions of Office will be supported on Windows and Mac and will ship with the OneNote app. Microsoft will also ship both 32- and 64-bit versions, according to the post, support the software for five years. The company said it does not plan to change the price. 

In April 2020, Microsoft transitioned Office 365 into Microsoft 365, a subscription service that added features to the tools suite but required a monthly payment -- $7 for an individual plan or $10 for a family of up to six. (Note: That price will be increasing in March 2022.) The company said its main focus will continue to be on the cloud, but it understands not everyone is ready to take that step. While you can use Microsoft 365 apps like Word, PowerPoint and Excel online for free with limited functionality, you'll need either a perpetual version or subscription to take full advantage of their capabilities.

Some wondered if Office 2019 would be the last perpetual version of the software once Microsoft 365 came along. But then Microsoft announced its plan for a perpetual release of Office in a September blog post

For more, check out how to download Windows 10 for free, how to download Windows 11 for free and everything you need to know about transitioning from Windows 10 to Windows 11

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