The Subscription-Less Version of Office 2021 Launches Oct. 5

If you don't have a Microsoft 365 subscription, you'll finally be able to use Office 2021 on Oct. 5.

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A photo of the Microsoft logo
Microsoft is rolling out Office 2021 and Windows 11 on the same day.
Image: Sajjad Hussain (Getty Images)

The new version of Microsoft Office for Windows and macOS is dropping Oct. 5—the same day Microsoft will officially release Windows 11.

While some folks may have migrated over to the cloud-based Microsoft 365, which automatically updates the Office apps with the latest features if you have an active subscription, some of us don’t want to subscribe to use Word or Excel. That’s why Microsoft is releasing the perpetual license version of Office.

Office 2021 is an upgrade from Office 2019, and while Microsoft hasn’t officially announced new features, the company previewed what we can expect in its version of Office for commercial and government customers that rolled out today. Those features include Dark Mode support, new Excel functions and formulas, a better way to search through a range of cells, and improved slideshow recording for PowerPoint. It’s also adding multi-app support for version 1.3 of the OpenDocument format. Outlook will get improved search and better in-app translation options for more than 70 languages.


Microsoft has said that it will support Office 2021 for five years, which is a bit shorter than the seven-year support offered with previous Office suites. This is a perpetual release, meaning there won’t be consistent feature updates like subscribing through Microsoft 365. The release is intended for users who need a one-time purchase option.

Office 2021 also won’t include real-time collaboration and or AI-powered automation for Word, Excel, and PowerPoint. If you want access to the latest cloud-based features, including a slew of new remote collaboration tools, you want a Microsoft 365 subscription.


Microsoft hasn’t announced a price yet, but as reported back in February, the one-time purchase pricing will remain similar for personal and small business users. And while Microsoft definitely wants people to use Microsoft 365, an Office 2021 license will almost certainly be cheaper than a subscription.

Office 2021 will be available to buy on Oct. 5.