Microsoft hints at standalone successor to Office 2019 suite

The firm appears to U-turn on plans to scrap 'perpetual licence' editions of Microsoft Office

Microsoft has suggested it will launch its Office productivity suite of apps and services in the form of a refreshed ‘perpetual licence’ edition, two years after the launch of Office 2019.

Expected to be sold at a standalone cost to customers on Windows and Mac, this variety of Microsoft Office will bring the apps and services that compromise the Microsoft 365 suite to enterprises that don’t wish to buy a subscription.

The perpetual licence, touted to launch in the second half of 2021, may come as welcome news to businesses not yet fully enticed by the nature of cloud services.

Office 2019, launched for Windows 10 devices two years ago, was released with a reduced extended support period against that offered in previous offline editions, namely Office 2016.

Although Microsoft offered five years of mainstream support, lasting through to 2023, the firm would only offer an additional two years of extended support, with updates ending on 14 October 2025. This was in order for the Office 2019 end-of-life cycle to align with Office 2016.

The announcement of another standalone Office suite, likely to be named Office 2022 based on historical naming conventions, suggests Microsoft has backed away from intentions to phase out this form of software launch. The firm had previously hinted it would abandon standalone releases and instead encourage its customers to opt for subscription-based services, honed by the launch of Microsoft 365 earlier this year.

"Software that is more than a decade old, and hasn't benefited from this innovation, is difficult to secure and inherently less productive,” Barnardo Caldas, general manager for Windows and Jared Spataro, general manager for Office said in a joint blog post to mark the launch of Office 2019, for instance. “As the pace of change accelerates, it has become imperative to move our software to a more modern cadence."

The firm announced the expected launch of a new ‘perpetual licnece’ for Microsoft Office alongside updates on Exchange Server as part of its Microsoft Ignite 2020 event.

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The apps and services that will be available with this edition of Microsoft Office are also yet to be confirmed, although Office 2019 launched with a host of services, many of which are likely to be bundled into the release again.

These included Word, Excel, PowerPoint, Outlook, Publisher, Visio, Access, and Project at launch, as well as Exchange Server, Skype for Business Server, SharePoint Server, Project Server and Office Online Server released later down the line.

Microsoft has said it would share additional details around the official names, pricing and availability of this edition of Microsoft Office in the near future.

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