back to article Microsoft announces a new Office for offline fans, slashes support, hikes the price

Microsoft has announced plans for its lucrative Office product line, with Office 2021 and a Long Term Servicing Channel (LTSC) version that halves the support given to editions from years past. The company is keen that users leap aboard the update train and ditch perpetual licensing in favour of subscriptions. Back in 2019 it …

  1. johnfbw

    All companies suddenly switch to offline mode

    Microsoft realises all its Onedrive features are driving customers away

    1. Evil Auditor

      Re: All companies suddenly switch to offline mode

      Hmm, didn't occur to me that these are features, but always willing to learn...

    2. Hubert Cumberdale Silver badge

      Re: All companies suddenly switch to offline mode

      To be fair – and this is coming from someone who never thought he'd say this – I actually find OneDrive rather useful, and it's actually saved my arse on a few occasions. It's not perfect, and sometimes it's damned annoying (such as documents only autosaving if they're stored on it), but on the whole I think it's a good thing.

      1. Evil Auditor

        Re: All companies suddenly switch to offline mode

        Unfortunately, I can't say the same: random Office 365 crashes with disabled autosave on a handicapped on-premises installation really piss me off.

      2. Trollslayer

        Re: All companies suddenly switch to offline mode

        The integration of OneDrive with SharePoint and Office365 is very powerful.

        1. gobaskof

          Re: All companies suddenly switch to offline mode

          Working at a university pre sharepoint as a linux user was simple. Open the odd document on a Libre office or via a VDI. Now everything is a bunch of sharepoint links that half work. Office 365 opens in your browser and half work, then fails to save. If you download the file and email it back everyone is now confused by a file rather than a sharepoint link. OneDrive web interface is insane.

          The issue is not whether OneDrive sucks. It is that Microsoft have an incentive to use one monopoly to prop up another.

          1. NATTtrash
            Coffee/keyboard

            Re: All companies suddenly switch to offline mode

            Now everything is a bunch of sharepoint...

            Remember coming into that professors office, where it is a big jungle of paper, journals stacked man high against the wall, drawers open and overflowing with sheets of paper? And if you asked: "How do you manage to find X?", the standard reply was: "No worries, I got my system".

            This now moved to digital. Advantage of the modern digital age. It has, as so many other things, become self service. You now have to figure out yourself where stuff is, rummaging through other peoples mess. Without knowing what "the system" is. But hey, you can access it "in the cloud, conveniently from your own home". While the "Activity Overview" registers how long it took you...

      3. 0laf

        Re: All companies suddenly switch to offline mode

        I use OneDrive personally and I find it pretty usefull.

        I also use OneDrive professionally and in conjunction with SharePoint and the many other 365 overlapping apps it's an utter PITA.

        OneDrive/Sharepoint and data retention legislation do not mix. Also I can't find anything ever, but that's pretty much the norm for Sharepoint I suppose.

  2. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    "The good news," it said, "is that you can deploy both Office LTSC and the Microsoft 365 version of Office with the same deployment tools."

    No, the real good news is that LibreOffice 7.0 and soon 7.1 are more than up to the task, and so offer a more cost effective replacement, especially for those who really need compliance with the EU Open Document Format. That is, with the exception of the presentation side of things because that is, umm, "weak" is probably the most gentle way to describe it.

    But yes, I can see those who have gone into bed with Microsoft not seeing any other option than to sponsor the next yacht purchase of Microsoft executives.

    1. katrinab Silver badge
      Unhappy

      Libre Calc's support for linking to external data is nothing like as good as Excel's. I use that feature a lot.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        .. yet I'm directly using SQL sources in LibreOffice.

    2. David Austin

      LibreOffice Still doesn't have a PIM tool that could replace Outlook - They recommend Thunderbird, which is OK (In some ways, better) for email, but not the PIM Part of the app.

      In the Business world, Outlook is a crown jewel; If you want to kill Office, you need to have a drop in Replacement for it.

      Closest I think we've come to that is GMail in Google's G.Suite.

  3. steviebuk Silver badge

    I think. although maybe harsh

    Forced subscription for applications like this need to be curbed. For big tech companies like MS who have a clear monopoly on apps like Office they should be forced to make available a paid for once copy and not be forcing people into a yearly sub. Yes, sometimes a yearly sub could work out cheaper for people but then I'd point them to Libre. But should still be the option for Office offline. I still enjoy the 2013 Office ISO I have and I believe I have an 2016 ISO somewhere but we can no longer get 2019 as an ISO :( as it's that shitty Click To Run bollocks.

    1. FIA Silver badge

      Re: I think. although maybe harsh

      Erm, isn't this whole article about a paid for once copy?? I'm confused.

      Also, there seems to be an offline installer for Office 2019. It looks like it's a disk image, you could probably burn it, or it's contents to an ISO.

      1. katrinab Silver badge
        Meh

        Re: I think. although maybe harsh

        It is not a disk image. You configure an xml file with the options you want (eg language and the products you want to down load).

        Then you run setup with some command line options to download the files, which are a few .cabs plus a very large "stream.x64.x-none.dat" (or substitute x64 if you go with the 32 bit option) and a smaller file where you substitute "none" with your choice of language.

        Then you can run setup again to actually install it. I have it sitting on the server, and install it to desktops from there.

    2. Sykowasp

      Re: I think. although maybe harsh

      The 365 sub for home users is nearly £100 though (I forget the exact amount). Every year.

      Office 2019 Home and Student is in a similar ballpark, but forever. In fact I see it available for £20 (professional plus with more apps is £27) and other places for even cheaper if you trust them. Most home/school users only want Word, Excel and Powerpoint anyway (Publisher might be useful for school though).

      Simple choice really. Once your 365 free year that came with your laptop is over, either switch to LibreOffice if you can cope with the change, or pay less, once, for the key for the software you need that should last you a few years.

      But it's a 1 computer license. Yeah, that's the only problem. But OTOH it's half-to-quarter the price, once only.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: I think. although maybe harsh

        I've never paid full whack (£79.99) for Office 365 Home Microsoft 365 Family – this year it was only half that. There's always grey-market licence cards available from various places – although since Britain* left the EU, I've found them harder to come by. Never had a problem with them though. I used to be a full MS-hater, but I have to say, I certainly get my money's worth from my subscription these days. Then again, I'm probably breaking the terms of the licence by using it for business purposes (hence AC).

        *[sic]. I'll let you figure out why.

        1. Ben Tasker Silver badge

          Re: I think. although maybe harsh

          > I used to be a full MS-hater, but I have to say, I certainly get my money's worth from my subscription these days. Then again, I'm probably breaking the terms of the licence by using it for business purposes (hence AC).

          It's a bit hard to attach any weight to you saying the subs are a reasonable cost if that's then followed by you saying that you're not actually keeping to the license.

          Your reason for not having the correctly licensed version, presumably, is because the sub's are overly expensive, which only helps underline OPs point

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: I think. although maybe harsh

            Touché.

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: I think. although maybe harsh

        For home users, it's £80/year - that allows up to six family members to use it, each for several devices (PC, tablet, etc) and 1TB of OneDrive storage each. I use the cloud space for offsite backups and archives (alongside local ones, before I get abuse for relying on the cloud) and that, alone, covers a significant proportion of the annual the cost.

        My real complaint is that MS have stopped supporting Office on older Macs - my 10 yo iMac still runs briskly but can't update past High Sierra (which suits me as I still have the odd 32bit app). Microsoft updater (and the individual app) tell me almost daily that there are updates needed but, if I try to update, it tells me I need to update the OS. Apple still support High Sierra with security updates (I don't want feature updates as it is stable and works). MS, if you won't update the Office apps, STOP TELLING ME THEY NEED UPDATING!! Ironically, the Office versions installed on my Win 10 VM (via Parallels) continue to be updated.

        Adobe has done the same (stopped supporting on HS), but I fixed that by cancelling my subscription and removing all my Creative Suite stuff (and switching to the Affinity suite) - but other family members use Office and I'm not about to tell them to switch to something else.

        1. katrinab Silver badge
          Gimp

          Re: I think. although maybe harsh

          Apple stopped supplying security updates in December last year. The most recent one for sudo wasn't patched in High Sierra.

          If you go to DosDude, you can get the patches to Hackintosh Mojave and later versions on it. Mojave runs fine on my Mid-2010 MacBook Pro.

          Probably best to do a clean install, and remember to repatch everytime you install an OS update, otherwise it won't boot.

        2. Trollslayer

          Re: I think. although maybe harsh

          £59.99/year for an individual, £79.99 for 2-6 people, both with 1TB OneDrive.

        3. Adelio Silver badge

          Re: I think. although maybe harsh

          Well, there is now just 2 of us at home, and i probably spend less than an hour using word A YEAR.

          I now use libra office for Excel files and it works fine. But then what i use it for is all small fry.

          Why would i pay £80 per year to M/S? for something that I barely use.

          As for OneDrive, I just think relying on an otuside company for your backups is a bad idea. At Least I know where my backups are and I do NOT need internet access to get to them.

          B.T.W 1Tb only covers my own photos and videos!

      3. mark l 2 Silver badge

        Re: I think. although maybe harsh

        I believe students at school age get Office 365 for free via their school in the UK at least, I can't speak for other countries.

        1. John Riddoch

          Re: I think. although maybe harsh

          Our kids have an O365 license, but that's mainly to help out with home learning with all the remote teaching going on at the moment. They were also using it for homework submission for the few months they were back at school, to avoid having to hand over (potentially) germ covered submissions.

          We'll see if it's kept going once things get back to some kind of normal.

        2. MutantAlgorithm

          Re: I think. although maybe harsh

          The free A1 education licence schools get gives all pupils access to the web versions of Word, Excel, Outlook etc, the A3 and A5 versions allow for download and install onto home machines. My older home PC is still running Office 2016 on a licence from when my daughter was at secondary school (she left 2 yrs ago) with no complaints!

      4. sweh

        Re: I think. although maybe harsh

        Hmm, I'm paying US$75/yr for a family O365 account; that's 6 users, each with 1Tb of OneDrive storage. 6Tb for $75? That's not a bad price, on its own, for off-site storage!

        And with `rclone` (www.rclone.org) to send encrypted backups, and `https://github.com/abraunegg/onedrive` for "live-ish" syncing it means my Linux machines can happily make use of that space.

    3. Wade Burchette

      Re: I think. although maybe harsh

      It is my opinion that all software should be owned, never licensed, except for security software (antivirus) which requires daily updates. If I had my way, I would ban all subscription software, unless it is a security program. And I would ban all software that requires the "cloud" to work. I am looking at Adobe there.

      It is also my opinion that no software should ever be linked to an email account, no exception. If I had my way, I would ban Microsoft forcing you to provide an email account to activate all editions of Office. And I would bring the ban hammer down harder on Microsoft wanting you to provide an email to use Windows 10. The only way around it now is to avoid connecting to a wired or wireless connection until your first log in.

      1. Adelio Silver badge

        Re: I think. although maybe harsh

        Agreed

  4. karlkarl Silver badge

    "The cloud is where we invest, where we innovate." ®

    So what you're saying is that innovation has stopped. Now you are just trying to wring out as much money as possible before you disappear into history?

    Everyone with good ideas lost passion as soon as Windows Product Activation came in Windows XP. The company has been a ghost ship since.

    1. ecofeco Silver badge

      Rentier is the end game of all corporations.

    2. FIA Silver badge

      What innovation?

      MS got big by licencing DOS. This allowed them to leverage Windows, the rest is history.

      Windows wasn't that good though, and I'm not sure what else they innovated before XP? Not the browser, not office suites (evolved sure, but they're not new ideas)... what else? NT is a decent little OS and could be argued as 'innovative' maybe, but it then got Windows bolted onto it.

      I'd say modern MS is better, although I think they're technically competent, but still not necesseraly 'innovative'. (What I mean by this is actual technial things, whilst being a bit complex, because MS... are usually pretty clever. Some of the things they're doing to actually make good on the insecure 'singe user pc' roots of Windows are quite cool).

  5. NoneSuch Silver badge
    Go

    2GB of additional HD space required.

    The offline version needs a few gig of extra space to store all that rich creamy personal data you generate so it can be uploaded to the mothership the next time it sees an Internet connection.

  6. infroger

    MS Office Chart

    Does anyone have time do draw a chart with all licence possibilities of Microsoft Office's solutions (online, offline, 365, 2019, enterprise, consumer oriented, mobile, for Mars colonizers, etc.). Not that important, though. Just wanted a good laugh.

    1. ecofeco Silver badge

      Re: MS Office Chart

      Of course.

      What's that old joke about my dog eating crayons? There ya go!

  7. David Jackson 1

    Time to abandon Office (probably should have done a long time ago)

    If this is the way things are going, it's definitely time to give up Office. I'll stick with Office 2016 for now, but for the future no thanks.

    I've no intention of going down the subscription route, or the cloud route,

    Of course a lot of people will unfortunately.

    1. tiggity Silver badge

      Re: Time to abandon Office (probably should have done a long time ago)

      Only use office at work, on work PC, with work licenced copy

      All my home needs are met with LibreOffice. Only really need that at home due to peoples love of sending MS format files* (be that word, excel, PowerPoint) and so I need software that will open / edit MS format files.

      *And mainly (for a reason I cannot fathom) people sending images INSIDE A WORD DOC. The doc has no text, just the image. Just WHY??? WTF is wrong with some people? Just send me a png, jpg like a normal person

      1. Mike 137 Silver badge

        Re: Time to abandon Office (probably should have done a long time ago)

        "WTF is wrong with some people?"

        Some business people I deal with don't know how to open an image (typically we send as .tif). They can only open it if it's embedded in a word document.

        1. David 132 Silver badge
          Thumb Up

          Re: Time to abandon Office (probably should have done a long time ago)

          As ever, there's an XKCD comic that feels your pain.

  8. Nate Amsden Silver badge

    now if they only let consumers buy LTSC windows

    That would be a nice improvement. I know enterprise customers can get LTSC, but consumers should be able to as well. MS is supporting the LTSC windows regardless so it's not as if it would be much effort. Slap a premium price on it, that's fine. I'll pay double, even triple the price for that peace of mind without much hesitation.

    I purchased a copy of Windows 10 LTSC for a work VM last year, and the cost was almost $500(had to buy win10 pro then a LTSC upgrade license, note company paid not me of course). Possible the vendor quoted sub optimal part numbers I am not sure. Support until 2029 so that's good.

    My main desktops/laptops have been linux since 1998, any windows systems at home still run 7(most are off as I don't need them), no plans to upgrade them at this point. AV software still supported, and I haven't had a known security issue with any of my personal systems since the early 90s.

  9. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Have been running perpetual license Office 2010 (bought directly from MS website) which required no internet connection for registration or to use. It serves my needs. Call 1-800 number to register program.

    I would pay a 50% or 100% premium for a current version of Office if it had the exact same requirements. Zero internet connectivity. Not to register, not to phone home every 30 days or ever.

    If it came with a pack of DVD's or a thumb drive to install or you could download an ISO to a thumb drive from an internet connected business system and copy it to the non-internet connected home computer and then register by a phone call. I don't trust MS and never will trust MS to give them access to my home computer.

    Until then, won't ever buy or upgrade my Office 2020. I don't care about support.

    For nearly three decades I always would buy two identical computers, one would be the internet connected and one would be the never internet connected. The non-internet connected never crashed or slowed down or needed to be reset to factory settings. The internet connected did have problems and crashed.

  10. Long John Silver
    Pirate

    Support for what?

    From whence does need arise for expensive rental arrangements offering support?

    Might it be that suites of integrated office software have become so complicated to administer and to use that they can bring down the systems upon which they sit in a manner leaving IT professionals puzzled and desperate for a rapid solution?

    Complicated software almost inevitably has lurking bugs which can manifest in curious ways. As evident from MS Windows 10, enhancements and security fixes can introduce new bugs. For operating systems and office suites it seems increasingly likely nobody in the vendor company can keep detailed grip on the totality. Hence, unexpected consequences from changes made to one component become increasingly likely.

    This poses conundrums for vendors and users alike. Vendors must ask at what point the game of software capability expansion ceases to be worth the candle. Because it is possible to introduce new features does not mean they should be. Many of the existing bells and whistles in this monolithic software are used by very few people. Hazard arising from introducing a new feature must be weighed against the number of people likely to benefit and the number content with simpler features discommoded by collapses warranting external support.

    From the point of view of enterprise and institutions using office suites the question must be how much money is justified in buying support to fix problems many of which should never have arisen in the first place?

    Where does the balance lie?

  11. ecofeco Silver badge

    I say, goddamn...

    ...goddamn, the pusher man.

    1. DrBobK

      Re: I say, goddamn...

      You know, I've seen a lot of people walkin' 'round

      With tombstones in their eyes...

  12. PhilipN

    It's 2021? Who knew?

    Still use WordPerfect for DOS in an OS/2 VM. Does 100% of what I want.

    But 0% of what others want. Sigh.

  13. Joe Drunk
    Windows

    Still on Office 2010

    On a Windows 7 box. Have had no problems opening Word files with crazy macros or Excel spreadsheets with VB macros that are sent to me produced with O365/2019. Office 2010 opens much faster than its cloudy counterparts. Not a one drive user but until Mickeysoft makes upcoming versions of online docs incompatible with legacy versions I'm sticking with my 2010 offline.

  14. Ozzard

    Microsoft owns the de-facto interchange format, so can do this indefinitely

    As I've said on a number of occasions in these comments, the *only* way to stop this is for someone to spend a few million to a few tens of million to set up a bug-for-bug-compatible free and/or open project that exactly tracks Office. No "improvements". No "doing it our way". No "but that's patented", even. A drop-in replacement so that users don't need re-training, investment banks can be certain that their traders' complex derivatives (many of which are *defined* in Excel spreadsheets) will keep the same values, and designers can round-trip documents without fear of formatting whoopses.

    Until that point, Microsoft wins.

  15. Mr Dogshit
    FAIL

    Yay

    Gotta love opening spreadsheets in a browser.

  16. Adelio Silver badge

    Latest version

    Apart form a few people (in the world) is there anything in version of office > 2007 that people actually use?

    I mean they have been struggling to get people to buy the latest and greatest, and I think the main way has been my making the old version NOT work in the latest version of windows.

    And now they are trying to tell us that we should be paying annually for the honour of using office. Not a chance.

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