Microsoft announces Office 2021 release and Office LTSC

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The latest enterprise version of the Office suite is out now, the consumer version to follow next month.

This week Microsoft launched a new version of Office LTSC (Long Term Servicing Channel) a special edition of the Office productivity suite for enterprise customers. The company also announced that the next major consumer iteration of its Office productivity suite, Office 2021, will become generally available to on Oct. 5.

Different ways to buy and use Microsoft Office

Microsoft offers different options when it comes to buying and using their Office applications such as Word and Excel. Most customers buy them as part of a Microsoft 365 subscription. Others will be able access the applications as part of Office 2021 and Office LTSC,. These are the products for which Microsoft announced updates today.

The difference? Office 2021 and Office LTSC don’t require a subscription like Microsoft 365 but are instead available as a onetime purchase.

Office LTSC, which is available now, is for companies whose employees require the ability to access Word, Excel and the other applications in the suite even when they don’t have internet access. For example, these could be for desktop computers used to manage production line operations at a factory and are not always connected to a network.

Here’s what’s new

The new Office version that Microsoft unveiled this week introduces performance and accessibility improvements. There’s also a new dark mode, as well as enhanced productivity features rolling out for Word and Excel.

The Office LTSC version of Word is receiving a feature called Line Focus that allows users to highlight a few lines in a document and temporarily hide the remaining text. The feature is aimed at making it easier to focus on a specific snippet of text.

In Excel, users will have access to a feature called XLOOKUP. This helps users find specific pieces of data in large spreadsheets.  There is also something called dynamic array support. Previously, all the results from an Excel calculation were organized in a single spreadsheet cell. This made accessing them difficult. The dynamic array support enables Excel to organize each calculation result in a separate spreadsheet cell to improve usability.

Microsoft also promised continued support for the “one time” non-cloud version of office. “This will not be our last perpetual release,” declared Jared Spataro, Corporate Vice President for Microsoft 365.