If there’s one thing we could do without next year besides, well (gestures at everything), it’s subscription services. Peacock. Xbox Game Pass. Disney+. Adobe Creative Suite. Apple Arcade. Stadia. HBO Max. CBS All Access. Netflix. Hulu. Spotify. Amazon Prime. Even our shoes aren’t safe from monthly payments. Kind of makes you pine for the good ol’ days where you’d pay a flat fee for something and it was yours. You can still do that with some things, obviously, and subscription services aren’t going away, but now that everything is an endless bill cycle, it would be nice to just....own something. Microsoft seems to have gotten the memo, because it plans to release a new subscription-less version of Office in 2021.
Spotted by PCMag (via Windows Central), Microsoft makes a brief mention of this in an Exchange Team blog published yesterday: “Microsoft Office will also see a new perpetual release for both Windows and Mac, in the second half of 2021,” the company said. No other information about the new Office is available at this time.
Currently, there are a few ways to get your hands on some Microsoft Office programs. You can access them for free on the web, the same way you would Google Docs. All you need is a Microsoft account and you’re in. If you need to use those programs offline and install them directly to your computer, there are a few subscription tiers that will give you access to Word, Excel, PowerPoint, Outlook, and a few other programs and services. You can also buy a license outright for $150 and get Word, Excel, and PowerPoint without a subscription, though it doesn’t come with access to OneDrive and Skype.
If you’re a current student or educator, you can get all those programs plus Skype, OneDrive, and a bunch of other programs for free with Office 365 Education. But your school needs to have an Office 365 Education plan for you to take advantage of it.
It’ll be interesting to see what features Microsoft adds to its already robust slate of work productivity programs. It recently added some cool new transcription tools to Word online, but has no plans to bring those same tools to the desktop version at this time. (Fingers crossed they’re included in the next version!) Either way, it’s a huge sigh of relief to see Microsoft will still offer perpetual licenses of some of its programs instead of becoming a 100% subscription service next year. If you’re someone like me who uses Microsoft Office a lot, you save more in the long run anyway.