Office LTSC 2021 is the latest perpetual version of Office for commercial and government customers. This how-to guide will detail all the steps you need to follow to install Office 2021 LTSC on your computer.
Installing Office LTSC 2021 will give you access to Word, Excel, PowerPoint, Outlook, and OneNote, as well as Access and Publisher if you have Windows PC. However, if Office 2021 LTSC does have more features than earlier versions of on-premises Office, it doesn’t have the same set of features as the version of Office that’s available through Microsoft 365.
Here are the high-level steps you’ll take to install Office LTSC 2021 on your computer:
Traditionally, we IT Pros have known the various versions of the Office productivity apps and all the different versions of it… Office 2003 Standard Edition, Office 2013 Professional Plus, and Office 2016/2019, including Project and Visio apps.
In recent years, Microsoft has rebranded the way they release and service Windows and Office. Last year, they released Office LTSC Professional Plus 2021, among other versions. This is the latest version of their software available to enterprises with a volume licensing agreement.
Now, Microsoft would just assume you subscribe to their subscription product, Microsoft 365 Apps for enterprise. Depending on what channel you’re on, you get new fixes and feature updates monthly, every two months, or twice a year. This is where they get the most bang for the buck – recurring ‘service’ revenue.
However, for enterprises that have users or a subset of users that like the features they get every two or three years, Office LTSC 2021 is the right choice.
Let’s go through some of the changes in Office LTSC 2021 compared to Office 2019 (and Office 2016).
Feel free to browse these Microsoft articles to learn about the new features in the applications in Office LTSC 2021:
All versions up to and including Office 2016 used MSI installer technology to install the Office apps on Windows PCs. Starting with Office 365 ProPlus and Office 2019, Microsoft switched to streaming technology, otherwise known as ‘Click-to-Run.’
Office LTSC 2021 comes with five years of mainstream support. There will be no extended support available for these products. Office LTSC 2021 will go out of support on October 13th, 2026.
Office LTSC 2021 includes the Microsoft Teams desktop application as part of the installation. If you want more info, please visit this Microsoft link.
Word, PowerPoint, and Excel now include support for the OpenDocument format (ODF) 1.3. Visit this link for more information.
IT pros can plan on using the same distribution tools such as Microsoft Endpoint Configuration Manager (SCCM) to deploy and update Office LTSC 2021. Activation methods also stay the same. You can use a Key Management Service (KMS) or Multiple Activation Keys (MAKs).
Bonus – because Office LTSC 2021 retains the same major version number (16.0) as Office 2019 and Office 2016, existing Group Policy settings will continue to work. Other registry locations will also be retained, and add-ins and other extensibility solutions will retain compatibility!
Now, let’s get to the good stuff. I’ll go through the most common steps you’ll need to perform to install Office LTSC 2021 on a computer. There are more enterprise scenarios you’ll come across – using Microsoft EndPoint Configuration Manager, for example – but those are outside the scope of this article. As you’ll likely have a smaller subset of users that will need to use this product, I’ll keep it straightforward for you.
The first step you will take is downloading the latest version of the Office Deployment Tool (ODT), which is a command-line tool that you can use to download and deploy Office LTSC 2021. You can download it here.
After you download the ODT file, open your Downloads folder from the ‘This PC’ shortcut in File Explorer, then double-click on the file to extract its contents.
Click the ‘Click here to accept…‘ checkbox, then click Continue.
You can choose where you want the files to go. I chose my Desktop (folder).
Ok, now we’re getting somewhere. As of August 2022, these are the files included with the latest tool – this is version 15330.20230.
Setup.exe is the actual Office Deployment Tool, the command-line tool. The only other piece required is a configuration file in XML form. This file will explain to the ODT what application suite to install, what apps to include/exclude, the architecture of the installation (x86/x64), and other various options.
In some scenarios, it makes sense to create a new file. But thankfully, Microsoft includes some sample files for various flavors and types of Office.
You can use the first two with ‘Office365’ in the file name to install the 64-bit and 32-bit versions of Microsoft 365 Apps for enterprise. Again, that is the subscription product that gets product feature updates on a cadence. We are looking at the Enterprise options. So, again, bonus – we can edit the ‘configuration-Office2021Enterprise.xml’ file to suit our needs!
I’ve opened the file in Notepad++. The beginning (green) text explains the purpose of the file and how to use it. Note the warning that this file is NOT meant to be used to install Office 365 / Microsoft 365 apps or products.
The ‘<Configuration>’ section below is where all the magic happens. Let me describe the most prevalent attributes and their purpose.
This is a reminder that the installation of Office LTSC 2021 works best when there are no other existing versions of Office already installed. Although the installer will handle this for us, it is always cleanest to wipe the slate clean BEFORE running the install. And, as this is done every two or three years at the most often, it wouldn’t hurt to get things nice and tidy.
Alright, let’s finish this article off by running the installer. I’ll open a Windows Terminal instance (as Administrator).
Now, we will enter the following command:
setup.exe /configure .\configuration-Office2021Enterprise.xml
Next, the installation progress window appears.
Success! We have lift off.
When we open the Start Menu on Windows 11, we notice a few new apps available.
After I click on Word, there are some housekeeping items to take care of. Dismissing a privacy settings dialog and clicking Accept to accept the license agreement.
I clicked the ‘Account‘ menu in the lower left corner and noted the current licensing state.
Because we didn’t include any Multiple Activation Keys in the configuration.xml file (which you certainly can do!) and are not on an enterprise network with a KMS server (for activation purposes), you will need to rectify the situation. In my case, I’ll enter a MAK and get the software activated.
I click the ‘Change Product Key‘ link.
After entering my key, we are all good!
And, in Word -> Account, we are completely legal and happy! Quick side note – in the dialog box below, you may have noted ‘Version 2108.’ This means that the Office LTSC 2021 software will have feature parity with the August 2021 monthly channel of Office 365!
Thank you for reading. I hope you gained some additional insight into your options for installing and deploying Office LTSC 2021 in your enterprise. Please feel free to leave a comment or question below!