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Microsoft has added an option to its 365 suite for computers that are offline for a longer period of time. Normally, licences have to be checked every month.

The company announced the feature, which it calls “extended offline access”, in a blog. In the blog, Microsoft acknowledges that in some lines of work, a computer may be disconnected from the internet for an extended period of time. The company cites examples such as the government, the oil and gas industry, agriculture and scientific research. In those cases, the Microsoft 365 installation cannot check the status of the licence and update itself.

Extended offline access

Normally, the Microsoft 365 apps need to be connected to the internet every 30 days to get the latest updates and renew the licence. Microsoft now offers “extended offline access” for computers that have to do without an internet connection for a longer period. Licences on devices set up in this way only need to be checked once every 180 days.

Once the 180 days have expired, Microsoft offers two ways to renew the licence. The apps give 15 days’ notice of this. The easiest way to reactivate the licence is to connect the computer to the Internet again. If this is not possible, an IT administrator can pass on a code that was retrieved from a device that is connected to the Internet.

Office LTSC

Microsoft is clearly trying to convince as many of its customers as possible to purchase a subscription to Microsoft 365. However, the company continues to sell offline licenses of Office. Last week, the company introduced a new version of that: Office LTSC. With this licence, companies can pay for an Office licence once and do not need an Internet connection. To emphasise that this is a specialized product, Microsoft has increased the price of LTSC by 10 percent.

A new stand-alone version of Microsoft Office will also be released for small businesses and consumers. For these users, Office 2021 will be released later this year. Its price remains unchanged.