In 2020, Microsoft announced its plans to release a new version of Microsoft Office in 2021, aptly named Office 2021. This is to be released in two forms: a consumer Office 2021 version for personal or small business use and Office LTSC (Long Term Servicing Channel) for professional and commercial users.
Office 2021 will be available for both Windows and macOS, and similar to the previous Office 2019 release, it is designed primarily for those who don’t want to subscribe to the cloud-powered Microsoft 365 variants.
At the time, Microsoft officials said that “at Microsoft, we believe that the cloud will power the work of the future. Overwhelmingly, our customers are choosing the cloud to empower their people—from frontline workers on the shop floor, to on-the-go sales teams, to remote employees connecting from home.
We’ve seen incredible cloud adoption across every industry, and we will continue to invest and innovate in the cloud as we partner with organizations everywhere to build the best solutions for the new world of work. But we also know that some customers just feel that they can’t move to the cloud despite the widely embraced benefits.”
So while Microsoft 365 will remain its main focus, Office 2021 will be released in a one-time purchase model for those who are not yet ready to move to the cloud.
One-time payment model
As mentioned already Office 2021 will have two versions, one for consumer use and the other for commercial users. Initial updates will include enhanced accessibility features and performance improvements across Word, Excel and PowerPoint, but there isn’t expected to be any major UI changes apart from a new ‘Dark Mode’ feature.
The key differential here is the re-introduction of the one-time payment model. Microsoft has recognised that not everyone is ready to move to cloud and as head of Microsoft , Jared Spataro explained, “ It’s just a matter of trying to meet customers where they are.”
Under this model, Office 2021 will be free to use with a one-time purchase and will be supported for five years before users will have to pay on a monthly basis. Prior to this users could avail of Office support for up to seven years before any further payment was required.
Microsoft will also be making some of its features available only to those on a subscription plan. And so it would seem, that while acknowledging the different preferences of clients when it comes to payment, it is clear that the future of Microsoft is very much focused on its subscription model.
The rise of the subscription model
While Microsoft 365 apps like Word, PowerPoint and Excel are available to use online in a free version with limited functionality, in order to truly take advantage of its vast array of functions and capabilities, you will need to purchase the one-time payment version or opt for the subscription based plan.
Historically, Microsoft Office could be downloaded with a one-off purchase online, however with the release of Office 365(now Microsoft 365) in 2011, users have been able to subscribe to all the Office apps, which are regularly updated, for a monthly fee as opposed to having to buy each new version once released.
This subscription model, whereby customers can pay a recurring fee for access to a particular product and service, has in recent years become the go to model for many businesses. With the rise of giants like Netflix, Disney and Spotify, more and more companies are opting for the subscription model for its many benefits – predictable revenue, greater customer retention, more opportunity to up-sell and the ability to offer lower upfront fees as an incentive to new customers.
In fact, today all new software entrants and 80% of historical vendors are offering subscription-based business models.
This model is equally as beneficial to customers as it allows them to access products and services that may have otherwise been outside of the scope of the budget. Monthly payments allow customers to spread costs and forecast finances more effectively. It also allows them to trial products without making a huge financial commitment from the get go.
Why choose Microsoft 365 subscription plan?
Microsoft 365 is used by more than 1 million companies across the world. It is an entire workplace solution that gives you integrated access through the cloud to a suite of productivity tools such as Outlook, Word, Excel, OneDrive, Teams and so much more.
These tools are available from anywhere and on any device which enables your business to be more productive, more flexible and with its subscription model, even more cost effective. With the world still operating remotely to a large degree, the mobile app makes working from home easier than ever. You can communicate and collaborate with teams remotely, access files securely from anywhere.
The vision of a paperless office is becoming more attainable as paperwork can be largely eliminated using tools such as OneDrive and SharePoint.
The Microsoft 365 Security Centre means that security can be monitored and managed all in one place while the security features within Microsoft 365 will be extremely valuable for businesses seeking ISO certification and GDPR Compliance.
Above all, in this current climate, Microsoft 365 gives organisations reassurance that their employees are empowered to work efficiently and productively from anywhere using the most up to date business software.
The difference between Office 2021 and Microsoft 365
Beyond pricing, the biggest difference between the two options is in the functionality of the software over time. While the Microsoft 365 subscription will be continually updated as new features are introduced and improved, with Office 2021 what you get when you purchase is essentially what you get for the five year lifespan or the purchase period.
In short, if you want maximise the productivity of your team and be on the cutting edge of what Microsoft sees as the future of its Office suite then you need to be on a Microsoft 365 plan.
Our team at Calnet IT are Microsoft 365 Silver Partners and have deployed Microsoft 365 for thousands of business users across Dublin and Ireland. We bundle Microsoft 365 licenses with proactive, reliable support for an affordable monthly cost and specialise in seamless migrations to the cloud. Pick the plan that suits your business or ask our team and we’ll help you decide. Contact us today at firstname.lastname@example.org.