Microsoft is planning another subscription-free Office release — time to cancel Microsoft 365?

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Microsoft just wrapped up its Ignite 2020 conference for IT professionals. While this isn't traditionally an event that produces a lot of interest to us, the Exchange team gave us a surprise.

As part of its blog post regarding the updates coming to Exchange Server and other enterprise-focused software next year, it was casually mentioned that "Microsoft Office will also see a new perpetual release for both Windows and Mac, in the second half of 2021" (via Windows Central).

A perpetual release of Microsoft Office includes all of the core apps and doesn't require a subscription. Most assumed the 2019 perpetual release would be the last as Microsoft sought to move everyone to Office 365 subscriptions. 

That single sentence was the only reference to the new version so we don't know the cost or what feature to expect from the new subscription-free version of Microsoft Office. If Microsoft simply produces an updated version of the current Office 2019 bundle, it would include Word, Excel and PowerPoint. We recently took a look at Microsoft 365 vs. Office 2019 and, while the one-time $149 payment is tempting compared to $69.99 a year for Microsoft 365, you give up a lot.

Microsoft continues to roll out new features to Microsoft 365, like its Teams for Consumers initiative on top of the 1TB of cloud storage and a wealth of features in the core apps only available to Microsoft 365 subscribers. 

Given the timing of the release, it will likely be called Microsoft Office 2022. It's nice to see Microsoft continuing support for this option for those who prefer it, although it's only beneficial to the most casual Office users. 

Sean Riley

Sean Riley has been covering tech professionally for over a decade now. Most of that time was as a freelancer covering varied topics including phones, wearables, tablets, smart home devices, laptops, AR, VR, mobile payments, fintech, and more.  Sean is the resident mobile expert at Laptop Mag, specializing in phones and wearables, you'll find plenty of news, reviews, how-to, and opinion pieces on these subjects from him here. But Laptop Mag has also proven a perfect fit for that broad range of interests with reviews and news on the latest laptops, VR games, and computer accessories along with coverage on everything from NFTs to cybersecurity and more.