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The surprise move is a departure from the company’s subscription based models.

Microsoft has decided to do an about face on the sales strategy for its popular workplace productivity suite, Office. The company has been concentrating on subscription based sales models, but this move appears to be going in the opposite direction.

Microsoft made the surprise announcement in a recent blog post.

Greg Taylor, Director of Product Marketing – Exchange Server and Online, wrote that “Microsoft Office will also see a new perpetual release for both Windows and Mac, in the second half of 2021.” He added, “We will share additional details around the official names, pricing and availability of all these products later.”

The announcement has raised many eyebrows.

Indeed, many industry watchers had expected Microsoft to phase out the perpetual license version of Office. The company has been promoting its Microsoft Office 365 subscription based product, which is reported to be a cash cow.

The last fixed-price version of Office was released in 2019. Many Microsoft watchers expected that to be the last such release. But the company confirmed the plan at its Ignite event earlier this week.

What’s the difference?

There are notable differences between the subscription-based products and the perpetual licensed products.

The subscription-based Office 365 always gets the latest improvements and new features as soon as they’re released. The fixed-price version of Office only has the features and functionalities that were available at the time of its release.

This means that the features and functionality currently included in Office 2019 are already dated. And the features included with Office 365 are not released for customers with the fixed price product.

The perpetual license Office has gone three years without an update. That’s why so many thought that Microsoft was going to go for a subscription-only model for its popular productivity suite.

Microsoft has promised to announce more details about pricing and availability of the perpetual license Office “later.”