back to article Microsoft shows off Office 2021 for consumers ahead of the coming of Windows 11

While its licensing plans for enterprises might be infamously byzantine, Microsoft has confirmed pricing and availability of Office 2021 for consumers and small businesses. The Windows giant would really prefer the great unwashed sign up for a Microsoft 365 subscription, "However, we know some customers still prefer a non- …

  1. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Standalone versions need an MS Account

    That will pee off an awful lot of people. Like Google, I want as little as possible to do with MS. In the past, I could enter the license key and that was it. Now they'll be wanting all my details including my inside leg measurement just to register the product. This is NOT progress.

    Ditching Orifice looks more and more attractive every day.

    1. AMBxx Silver badge

      Re: Standalone versions need an MS Account

      With the current pricing, they're making it clear that they're only interesting in 365. If you want to use the cloud stuff too, it's good value, otherwise no reason not to switch to a free alternative.

      1. big_D Silver badge

        Re: Standalone versions need an MS Account

        Home & Student has always been around that price, at least in Europe. I remember, when I first started, I was handing out over 400UKP for Office Professional.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Standalone versions need an MS Account

      So what happens when you ISP Internet Connection goes down?

      if you just use Pen and Paper then you don't need to have a long noose of string perpetually connected to M$.

      1. Lazlo Woodbine Silver badge

        Re: Standalone versions need an MS Account

        The standalone apps don't need an internet connection to work, especially if you're also saving lcally.

        With regards to a MS account, there's usually no need for one if you're installing whilst offline, disconnect WiFi and/or network cable during install and both Windows and Office usually skip the MS account check.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Standalone versions need an MS Account

          so how does the "Standalone versions need an MS Account" situation arise?

          1. elsergiovolador Silver badge

            Re: Standalone versions need an MS Account

            If they are polling for connection so that they can lure user into signing to MS Account and giving up their privacy - then it means they are doing operations on user's computer that are outside of the product domain - in this regard Microsoft could as well mine Bitcoin. I think some good lawyers could look into it.

          2. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: Standalone versions need an MS Account

            How else would they get their telemetry back to Redmond?

          3. DavidYorkshire

            Re: Standalone versions need an MS Account

            To make you register it and sign up for a Microsoft account. They are doing the same with W11 Home version which apparently can't be set up with a local account (they tried to give the impression with W10 Home that this applied, but provided you didn't let it see an internet connection until you were past the account creation stage it was actually possible).

            I wonder whether the LTSB version can be installed with just the installer .exe and an XML config file which contains the activation key? That did work with Office 2019 Pro+ (no sign-in needed).

    3. HildyJ Silver badge
      Angel

      Re: Standalone versions need an MS Account . . . BUT

      LibreOffice doesn't.

      1. ZeroPete

        Re: Standalone versions need an MS Account . . . BUT

        Now, if all the 'office' developers on 'nux would throw in together and come up with a working alternative to Excel and Word you might actually have a chance.

        As it stands, these things aren't up to the requirements of professional Excel and Word users. Anyone who tells you different is telling porkies.

        Develop a professional grade spreadsheet and word processor on 'nux and I'll migrate my 5 user company tomorrow. And that's a promise.

        Pete

        1. Fred Goldstein

          Re: Standalone versions need an MS Account . . . BUT

          Oh, come on. The LibreOffice competitors to Word and Excel are much better than their supposed equivalent to Access... now if you want a real dog, try its Base.

          But Office 365 (latest) doesn't always even *work* -- Excel has this nasty habit of losing its relationship with an obscure peripheral called a keyboard. So I do real work in Excel 2010, disregarding the warnings.

        2. Adair Silver badge

          Re: Standalone versions need an MS Account . . . BUT

          This is such a tired and bollox argument, based on the premise that anything that isn't Word/Excel/... can only be any good if it is exactly like Word/Excel/...

          Clearly the fact that MS has cornered the business market with these offerings allows them to be considered as the benchmark for what such software should do and how it does it, but stepping outside the distortion field immediately reveals the poverty and ridiculousness of the argument.

          In fact whatever works in any user's case is 'good enough'. Those wedded to the MS way can whine all they like, but in the end all they demonstrate is their slavery.

        3. ZeroPete

          Re: Standalone versions need an MS Account . . . BUT

          These 9 downvotes are fantastic, and show exactly why there are no real Excel and Word alternatives in the Linux ecosystem for a certain level of user.

    4. Binraider Silver badge

      Re: Standalone versions need an MS Account

      Try Libre office, already. Seriously. The niche features of MS probably aren't needed for the majority of users.

      Businesses with big pain in the arse applications built in excel should be chucking them into proper tools.

      Nobody forces us to use MS, and the more that bugger off, the more they will have to raise their game.

      Corporate types are slower at accepting change of course, but licensing is a big chunk of most companies opex lines, with Office being well up there in terms of volumes.

      Outlook is probably the only real 'dependency' business users really have. Other mail/calendar clients are available.

      1. Dr_Bingley

        Re: Standalone versions need an MS Account

        [quote]Outlook is probably the only real 'dependency' business users really have. Other mail/calendar clients are available.[/quote]

        Unless they've decided to use Sharepoint, OneDrive & MS Teams, that is. I work for an organisation that uses all three. I don't think we'll be breaking free any time soon.

      2. big_D Silver badge

        Re: Standalone versions need an MS Account

        Customers and business partners often force you to use MS Office, because they want to share documents with you.

        For all its benefits, LibreOffice is still crap, when it comes to accurately editing and saving MS Office documents. It has improved over the years, but it is still a long way from perfect.

        If you only share documents internally or you are using it at home, it is a great option (I use it on my Linux PC), but if you need to regularly collaborate externally, there is often no other choice.

        1. LionelB Silver badge

          Re: Standalone versions need an MS Account

          Alternatively:

          For all its benefits, MS Office is still crap, when it comes to accurately editing and saving LibreOffice documents. It has improved over the years, but it is still a long way from perfect.

          1. Grunchy Bronze badge

            Re: Standalone versions need an MS Account

            In my opinion all the word processors are pretty much crap. 9x out of 10 I’m just writing a simple cover letter, I always do that in Notepad .txt format for gosh sake, and print to .pdf and there you go.

            And I’ll tell you what, I have no qualms about editing those after the fact in vi, for gosh sake.

            And you know what I just found I’ve still got installed? Is NoteTab .otl file type, for gosh sake, I’m gonna put all those cover letters into NoteTab.

            1. Anonymous Coward
              Anonymous Coward

              Re: Standalone versions need an MS Account

              vi? pah. I create my word documents in hex

          2. Ken Moorhouse Silver badge

            Re: but it is still a long way from []perfect.

            Didn't you forget a word there?

        2. ibmalone

          Re: Standalone versions need an MS Account

          Accurately editing? No problem editing. The problem is inconsistent formatting. But then again, I see this between different versions of Word too. I agree that sometimes I have to close Libreoffice and go to Windows to try Word on a document, but I also have to close Word 365 and fire up Word 2016 at times too.

        3. Adair Silver badge

          Re: Standalone versions need an MS Account

          'For all its benefits, Word is still crap, when it comes to accurately editing and saving Libreoffice documents. It has improved over the years, but it is still a long way from perfect.' - there, it works just as well the other way around.

          It is a pity MS refuses to adopt the .ODF protocol properly within Word, preferring - as per usual - to inflict (for obvious reasons) it's own bowdlerised version on the enslaved masses.

          Meanwhile, outside the MS bubble, work gets done just fine. How can that possibly be?!

    5. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Standalone versions need an MS Account

      Ditching Orifice looks more and more attractive every day.

      I can only recommend it - we did that years ago. It's not for everyone - some people really want Outlook (which doesn't really speak carddav and caldav), and some cook up horrendous spreadsheets that only Excel can mangle and it takes a while for those people to detox, but otherwise it's fine.

      1. DavidYorkshire

        Re: Standalone versions need an MS Account

        In a business setting there's often not really any option - both due to user familarity, and to Office plugins used to integrate with assorted other systems (finance, CRM, etc).

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Standalone versions need an MS Account

          Actually, the integration is easier with LO because you can see what it's actually doing under the hood and the APIs are less depending on the prevalining wind to remain stable..

    6. big_D Silver badge

      Re: Standalone versions need an MS Account

      Standalone versions have needed an account for a while.

      We set up a dummy account for each PC we buy a license for. The same with Apple/Google accounts, each iPhone gets its own iCloud account and Android its own Gmail account, which isn't set up on the phone, just used to set-up the phone. The user doesn't have access to the email account or the password.

    7. steviebuk Silver badge

      Re: Standalone versions need an MS Account

      I was gonna say how much that will piss people off. I like Office but MS are becoming worse and worse. I see another anti-trust suite coming their way again if not careful.

      I even remember back in the 90s going round to a friends who showed us Office and "it does this in Word if you've spelt something wrong" the squiggle underline. Then years later I remember when the ribbon came out and hated it until I watch Microsoft's presentation on how it worked and I started to like it.

      But this sign in for an offline line app is just bollocks.

      1. Ken Moorhouse Silver badge

        Re: But this sign in for an offline line app is just bollocks.

        Microsoft went through a phase where there was a big problem with legitimate users of office being kicked out as unlicensed. If an SME had a few pc's each with an OEM Office on them (and a CoA for each pc), they would create an MS account and duly try to register the software. MS would say "No, you can't" and wouldn't tell you why. There were suspicions that the CoA's had been used and registered before being shipped - in those days the CoA was delivered with the Key visible to the Warehouse staff within the supplier chain, so it was conceivable it could happen. In one case I rejected the CoA's supplied to my customer for a batch of pc's and a fresh set were sent, but still similar outcome. Problem was mainly resolved by creating a unique email address* for each pc to have a license, and tying not only the CoA (which is normal) but the unique email address too to each specific pc. The problem was aggravated by the fact that, at random intervals, a message would come on the screen asking to activate the software again (even though activation had already been done).

        Yes, I am aware of Volume Licensing, but reasons...

        For those that know me: I'm not talking about my regular pc supplier (where this problem never arose), this concerns a customer that always insisted on a Big Brand manufacturer.

        * Edit: I see Big_D has already mentioned this technique.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: But this sign in for an offline line app is just bollocks.

          I see the Microsoft fanboi's are out today. Downvotes for mentioning MS crap licensing and a competitor in Linux! Thank goodness nobody said Apple - heads might have exploded y'all.

    8. JimboSmith Silver badge

      Re: Standalone versions need an MS Account

      That will pee off an awful lot of people. Like Google, I want as little as possible to do with MS. In the past, I could enter the license key and that was it. Now they'll be wanting all my details including my inside leg measurement just to register the product. This is NOT progress.

      Ditching Orifice looks more and more attractive every day.

      I bought a new laptop recently and Windows 10 was pre-installed. The sales person talked about the benefit of having a 365 6 month trial. After setting it up I tried to install Firefox and Thunderbird. Well it requires you to have a Microsoft account, I couldn't find any way round that. So I downloaded Linux Mint and installed that instead. Went back to the store for something else and the bloke made a bee line for me. He asked how I was getting on and I said it's now perfect because it doesn't have anything Microsoft on it anymore. He was very surprised.

    9. grizzly

      Re: Standalone versions need an MS Account

      "Ditching Orifice looks more and more attractive every day." - I could ditch Office were it not for Outlook. All the other apps have decent FOSS Linux equivalents. But there isn't an email/PIM app nearly as good as Outlook. Eg email-handling rules, recurring appointment options, tabbed\coloured calendar view, etc.

      Does anyone know different? I'd prefer not to give my data to Google by using GMail.

      1. TVU

        Re: Standalone versions need an MS Account

        "I could ditch Office were it not for Outlook"

        Have you tried any of Mailspring, Evolution and Geary?

  2. Snapper Bronze badge

    Oh God! Publisher! You just HAD to mention it didn't you! I won't sleep tonight.....

    1. Anonymous Coward
      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Wait, people actually took the trouble of downvoting this?

        LOL.

    2. Adair Silver badge

      'Publisher' is like that creepy uncle that everyone who knows does their best to avoid at parties, and wonder who was naive enough to invite him in the first pace.

  3. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    > Both Office 2021 and Microsoft 365 have also received a visual refresh

    Yay! Because all those arty, UI/UX designer types might be unemployed if we didn't 'makework' for them.

    1. Snake Silver badge

      Re: artsy UI updates

      But when they DON'T update the UI they get blasted for being behind the times.

      After they update, they get blasted for the design not being to [yours, theirs, our] look and design expectations.

      TL;dr In other words, nobody is EVER satisfied with an UI update and for those responsible it must seem like the most unappreciated job in the world.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: artsy UI updates

        Frankly I could not care less about the UI, I care much more about the UX.

        Whoever is in charge at MS seems to have a fetish for stripping as much usability from the suite as they can get away with.

        1. BrownishMonstr

          Re: artsy UI updates

          I was in about 15/16 when the Ribbon came out and, for some reason, enjoyed the changes back then. At the time I quickly got used to it, but it would be frustrating for me now. I thought it was frustrating for MS Paint to use the Ribbon, that seemed to have got rid of some features.

          That said, the ribbon wasn't a bad idea in MS Office, it made some things more visible. I remember at school the teaching assistant, who was doing the GCSE course as well, was putting textboxes all over their document because they didn't know how to use superscript. That wasn't the easiest to do on the old UI, you had to go to the format text window via tools. With the Ribbon it was on the first tab right next to the font dropdown. I suppose they could have put the super/sub-script button on the toolbar on the old UI, but adunno.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: artsy UI updates

            Where MS screwed the pooch was by (a) not giving a "return to old" option and (b) by changing a load of shortcuts in the process, which affected exactly those people who did heavy lifting in MS Word (of which I was one, before I got so fed up that I not only changed my own use to LibreOffice but found a way to do it at my company too).

            This is what I like about LibreOffice - they do experiment with interfaces, but they are OPTIONS, not a mandatory assault on a workflow you've developed over time. What MS did was OK for the hunt-and-peck brigade who wouldn't know a document style from a footer, but for people who professionally draft documents of more that 3 pages it was like switching a gearbox into park at 70 mph.

            Moronic, IMHO.

      2. big_D Silver badge

        Re: artsy UI updates

        What they should be blasted for is never finishing the damned job!

        There was a makeover for Windows 95, a makeover for 2000, a makeover for XP, a makeover for Vista, for 7, 8 and 10... And now for 11.

        But, if you scratch the surface, you will quickly find UI elements that date back to Windows 2000 or 95! Elements that haven't been overhauled in over 20 years and are still shown in their original form - for example the .cpl extensions and the MMC snap-ins. They don't follow any UI guidelines from the last 20 years and they don't even observe system features, like dark mode.

        They put a tick on things like "rounded corners" for most windows, centre the taskbar etc. but actually going through and making everything conform to the new style? Nah, that's too much like hard work.

      3. Grunchy Bronze badge

        Re: artsy UI updates

        “But when they DON'T update the UI they get blasted for being behind the times.”

        I don’t blast old UI elements for being behind the times, maybe you’re blowing something out of proportion.

        People such as myself still use Windows XP in certain circumstances because it’s not abstracted out to the moon like today’s PCs have become.

        I also still dig Windows 95, especially the Weezer and Brickell videos.

        “What’s with these homies dissing my girl, why do they gotta front?”: indeed.

  4. elsergiovolador Silver badge

    2007

    What was wrong with the Office 2007? Can't we have it back?

    1. Primus Secundus Tertius Silver badge

      Re: 2007

      @elsergio

      The original Office 2007 did not do export to pdf. That came with the second service pack.

      1. Dan 55 Silver badge

        Re: 2007

        That's why we had CutePDF.

        1. katrinab Silver badge
          Happy

          Re: 2007

          And Windows 10 comes with the Microsoft PDF Printer.

          1. Dwarf Silver badge

            Re: 2007

            But we still use CutePDF ...

            1. Denarius Silver badge

              Re: 2007

              I must be old. Dont use M$ stuff much, but still like XP or earlier, and Office 2003 or earlier was about as user friendly as M$ got. I know, export to PDF for which the LibreOffice can do or other software. Its mostly earlier versions of Excel that I like. Much of my documentation still starts off in vi. At least it has a consistent user interface, despite underlying OS. Used it since DOS 6 days and SysV.2

              Still amazed how booting in a BSD, Linux is fast. Same PC on Win 10 is like dragging a truck thru a particularly bad swamp. The Free Korean Office package is good also, with the benefit you can choose menus OR a ribbon/aka modern interface

    2. big_D Silver badge

      Re: 2007

      I would say Office 2003 for menu fetishists and Office 2010 for ribbon fetishist. Office 2007 was in a sort of no man's land. The ribbons weren't really all there and didn't always have a sensible layout, and applications like Outlook still had menus. Office 2010 corrected all the little errors in the original layout and made it a cohesive and usable whole.

    3. circusmole
      Meh

      I'm still on...

      ...Office 2007, have been since, well, 2007! It does all I need and I think Office 2007 and Windows 10 will be the end of the Microsoft line for me. I'm using LibreOffice on Windows 10 and Mint more and more.

  5. Howard Sway Silver badge

    a substantial proportion of users will be in need of a new PC

    Good job there's not a global chip shortage, or any other supply chain problems then.

    1. elsergiovolador Silver badge

      Re: a substantial proportion of users will be in need of a new PC

      Imagine the mountains of e-waste. Why Eco mob isn't already at Microsoft HQ?

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: a substantial proportion of users will be in need of a new PC

        Because they can't get organised as they're (trying to) use Teams?

        /s

      2. DavidYorkshire

        Re: a substantial proportion of users will be in need of a new PC

        Don't worry - Microsoft is going to save the world with this fine example of greenwash:

        https://www.microsoft.com/en-ww/accessories/sustainability/ocean-plastic-mouse

        Clearly we are expected to ignore the vast number of computers which will be dumped as a result of W11's system requirements, and the fact that Surface devices have little or no upgradeabliliy and are difficult / impossible to repair.

  6. terry 1

    Upgrade for upgrade sake? I have customers still on Office 2010, it does exactly what they need it to do. Sure, the vast majority are on 2013 and higher as PCs were sold with the 'then' current version of Office. But the fact is that I have saved my clients a skip load of cash by them not having 365.

    1. big_D Silver badge

      But you are also opening them up to a skip load of problems by keeping them on an unsupported version of Office with known flaws that won't be patched.

      If those PCs aren't connected to the Internet and all incoming documents are virus scanned, before they are let onto those computers, it might be an acceptable risk. If they need to be connected to the network, or, worse, the Internet, that is a very high risk factor.

      If they don't need the latest Office 365 features, give them LibreOffice, it is free and should happily cover all their needs. If they need MS Office compatibility, get them upgraded onto something with support.

      What is a couple of hundred dollars, compared to the loss of all data, because the PC was attacked through a known security hole that couldn't be patched, because the software was too old?

  7. Long John Silver
    Pirate

    Byzantine pricing: Machiavellian schemes.

    The Microsoft (MS) pricing structure for its products has become so elaborate that soon individuals and enterprise will need to hire independent consultants to arrange the best deal.

    No wonder some businesses fall foul of licence infringement, this arising from confusion alone. The complexity encourages one or other of two strategies.

    First, pay through the nose for the full caboodle, even though much may never be used, rather than deploy company executives to debate how many MS licences fit on the head of a pin.

    Second, use workarounds without much caring whether the strict MS nitpicking regimen is followed to the letter. MS snoops cannot be everywhere, particularly outside the USA. In other words contribute what one thinks the product is worth to one's business. Private individuals for the time being can fairly easily resort to 'pirated' copies.

    When the goal of getting everyone connected to the MS cloud is reached, the company shall have total control over a captive customer base. Also, having licence keys inscribed on chips in PCs will almost eradicate 'piracy'.

    Ironically, although it may be argued that digitally represented software and other 'content' lacks intrinsic monetary value because being reproducible without limit it has no scarcity (other than that artificially created by anachronistic copyright law), under an exclusively cloud-based mode of operation MS can legitimately be said to be offering a tangible service i.e. added-value to monetarily worthless streams of digits.

    1. DavidYorkshire

      Re: Byzantine pricing: Machiavellian schemes.

      That's already the case. I think I'm fairly clued up on Microsoft's licensing, but even so I still have to ask the software dealer sometimes as it gets so complicated that nobody apart from a Microsoft licensing specialist understands it - and even them I'm not entirely convinced that anyone actually does as you can get a different answer depending who and when you ask!

      1. Steve Davies 3 Silver badge
        Big Brother

        Re: Byzantine pricing: Machiavellian schemes.

        Just remember that this is what ORacle have done. Even their licensing specialists don't have a clue.

        Then you get audited and suddenly you will face a hefty bill that you did your best to avoid happening in the first place.

        MS is taking a lot of leaves from the Oracle book of license obfuscation.

        You have been warned.

        1. werdsmith Silver badge

          Re: Byzantine pricing: Machiavellian schemes.

          by being deliberately vague about licensing, causes companies to over licence to make sure they are covered. It's a dirty trick.

  8. Boris the Cockroach Silver badge
    Windows

    Hold on

    149 for home/student edition ... lets face facts here..... who the hell buys a 'home' edition? (students are another matter)

    Then another 100 on top for the right to use it for business..... ?? how do they know you're using it for business is there some sort of sensor built into the software that says "that .docx is from a business, and that .docx is from Aunt Mabel" and refuses to open the business one.. or does 'home' edition just come with 1/2 the functions crippled?

    Actually I'm just curious.... been on Libreoffice for ages as I like opening .docs that m$ software has forgotten howto handle....

    1. Ken Moorhouse Silver badge

      Re: how do they know you're using it for business

      A customer of mine was wanting to use ODBC to connect Sage Line50 to Excel, and couldn't. The reason handed down to me from Sage support was that the customer was using the cut-down version of Office, which is not supported by Sage.

  9. Ken Hagan Gold badge

    Two ways to read that

    "However, we know some customers still prefer a non-subscription version of the core Office apps for PC and Mac, which is why we're releasing Office 2021."

    Yeah! That'll fix those bastards...

  10. The Oncoming Scorn Silver badge
    Gimp

    We Stand Alone*

    I'll do my usual & wait for a grey market licence key on Amazon etc.

    *Why yes I am a Ultravox fan hence icon.

  11. Kev99 Silver badge

    We have access to a organization called "Tech Soup". They offer free and reduced price software and hardware to non-profits. Today they sent out a message that microsoft will no longer provide standalone versions of office to nonprofits. Nonprofits will have to either accept the security plagued, crippled office 365 option or go elsewhere. I didn't know microsoft handled marketing for LibreOffice.

  12. Smirnov

    Softmaker Office

    I know the usually recommended alternative if you're fed up with Microsoft's shenanigans is LibreOffice, but for those that are forced to work with Microsoft file formats or don't want an UI that's coming straight from Microsoft Office 98 I suggest to have a look at Softmaker Office, which has a modern UI and better compatibility with MS Office files than LibreOffice, and is available for Windows, Mac and Linux.

    There's also a free version (FreeOffice) for non-commercial use, but even the full paid-for version isn't very expensive (Standard is £70.99, Professional is £88.99, upgrades are even cheaper).

    Softmaker Office is developed by a German company and for the few times we needed support they have been very helpful. They also quick to fix any MS Office compatibility issues that may come up if you send them an example file to reproduce the problem.

    1. the.spike
      Happy

      Re: Softmaker Office

      I have to agree that Softmaker Office is pretty good. For my personal needs it is absolutely rock solid.

  13. Omnipresent

    Now all your passwordz belongz to me

    HUGE resource hog, and the biggest piece of spyware since google it'self.

  14. AndyMTB

    Drivers?

    I'd heard that the launch was being delayed in the UK due to specific hardware interface problems, missing drivers apparently. They don't want the launch to tank.

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