A couple of weeks ago, Microsoft announced that Office 2021 is launching on October 5, which is the same date on which Windows 11's staggered rollout begins. For those wondering how this offering differs from Microsoft 365, look no further. While Microsoft 365 is a subscription-based offering that takes advantage of the cloud and gets new features regularly, Office 2021 provides five years of mainstream support via a one-time "perpetual" license purchase, but that also means that it won't get any new features or updates until the next perpetual license release. It is primarily intended for users who want to pay a one-time fee with a fixed feature-set. Today, Microsoft has detailed some information about pricing and features included in Office 2021.
Office 2021 borrows a bit from Microsoft 365 in the way of collaborative features such as real-time co-authoring powered by OneDrive. People who sign-in to Office apps with their Microsoft account will get 5GB of complimentary storage, and will have the option to purchase more. Other features that were previously exclusive to Microsoft 365 but are now coming to Office 2021 include the ability to easily record PowerPoint presentations, as well as the modernization of formulas in Excel.
Another major change from previous releases is that Office 2021 ships with Teams as part of the installed features, rather than Skype for Business, but Teams is treated differently than other Office apps. Unlike the others, it will continue to get updates continuously over time, but you also only get access to the free version of Teams, since the premium version is licensed separately. You can learn more about managing the free version of Teams here. Teams is also integrated at an OS-level with Windows 11.
Microsoft has noted that with Windows 11's release on October 5, Microsoft 365 and Office 2021 apps will be revamped to match the design language of the new OS. The redesign will also be available to those on Windows 10. The company says:
This visual update is modern yet familiar, designed to help you focus on your best work. You’ll notice a neutral color palette, softer window corners, refreshed tabs in the ribbon, and colorful presence indicators so you can easily see who’s working on a document with you. App themes will stay in sync with your Windows light or dark mode by default. Updated apps include Word, Excel, PowerPoint, OneNote, Outlook, Access, Project, Publisher, and Visio. We’ve also intentionally aligned this visual update with the availability of Windows 11 to provide a coherent and seamless experience on a new Windows 11 PC.
It is important to note that Microsoft still recommends its Microsoft 365 subscription plans if you want to take full advantage of what the firm has to offer, but those who would rather pay a one-time fee can purchase Office Home and Student 2021 for $149.99, and Office Home and Business 2021 for $249.99. All these SKUs will be available from retailers and Microsoft's website from October 5, 2021. Microsoft has emphasized that Office 2013 is not supported on Windows 11, so if you are thinking of upgrading to the company's upcoming OS with the aforementioned legacy version of Office, now would be a good time to upgrade to Office 2021 as well.
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