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How to Install Office LTSC 2021

Michael Reinders

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Microsoft 365 Apps

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.

How to Install Office LTSC 2021

Here are the high-level steps you’ll take to install Office LTSC 2021 on your computer:

  • Download the Office Deployment Tool from the Microsoft Download Center
  • Configure/Create your ‘configuration.xml’ file
  • Download the Office LTSC 2021 installation files (optional step)
  • Install Office LTSC 2021 by using the Office Deployment Tool

What is Office LTSC 2021?

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.

What has changed and not changed in Office LTSC 2021?

Let’s go through some of the changes in Office LTSC 2021 compared to Office 2019 (and Office 2016).

What are the core new features in Office LTSC 2021?

Feel free to browse these Microsoft articles to learn about the new features in the applications in Office LTSC 2021:

Change in installation technology from MSI to Click-to-Run

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.’

Support Duration

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.

Microsoft Teams

Office LTSC 2021 includes the Microsoft Teams desktop application as part of the installation. If you want more info, please visit this Microsoft link.

OpenDocument format 1.3

Word, PowerPoint, and Excel now include support for the OpenDocument format (ODF) 1.3. Visit this link for more information.

What has stayed the same in Office LTSC 2021?

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!

Deploying Office LTSC 2021

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.

Download the Office Deployment Tool from the MS Download Center

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.

The waebsite to download the Office Deployment Tool
Website to download the Office Deployment Tool

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.

Open the Office Deployment Tool you just downloaded
We can double-click the downloaded file to get at its contents

Click the ‘Click here to accept…‘ checkbox, then click Continue.

Click the 'Click here to accept...' checkbox then Continue the installation
The Office Deployment Tool – License Terms

You can choose where you want the files to go. I chose my Desktop (folder).

Choose where you want the Office Deployment Tool config files to go
Choose where you want the config files to go

Ok, now we’re getting somewhere. As of August 2022, these are the files included with the latest tool – this is version 15330.20230.

The extracted files from the Office Deployment Tool
The extracted files from the ODT

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.

Create your configuration.xml file

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!

Editing the Office LTSC 2021 XML file for our purposes
Editing the Office LTSC 2021 XML file for our purposes

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.

  • OfficeClientEdition: We can choose here between ’64’ for 64-bit/x64 and ’32’ for 32-bit/x86.
  • Channel: This determines the servicing and update cadence. Options include:
    • BetaChannel (Office Insider Beta Channel).
    • CurrentPreview (Office Insider Preview Channel (formerly Slow).
    • Current (the latest monthly updates, or faster).
    • MonthlyEnterprise (monthly updates, but one or two months back – built for enterprises that don’t want the ‘latest and greatest’).
    • SemiAnnualPreview (twice-a-year updates released in March and September – four months before heading to SemiAnnual).
    • SemiAnnual (twice-a-year updates released in January and July).
    • PerpetualVL2021 (this is for Office LTSC 2021. Yep, this is what we’re using!).
  • Product ID: This is where you specify the suite and/or apps you wish to install. ‘ProPlus2021Volume’ is what we’ll use:
    • This includes the traditional suite – Word, Excel, Outlook, OneNote, PowerPoint, Publisher, Access, Teams, etc.
    • We will keep the Visio and Project entries in for completeness.
    • You will note the ‘ExcludeApp ID=”Lync”‘ entry. This tells the tool NOT to install Lync, which is actually the Skype for Business app. I know, legacy, legacy, legacy… 🙂
  • Various Misc: We’ll keep this file as is for our installation, but the remaining options (currently commented out in green text include:
    • Removing all previous versions of Office.
    • How much GUI the user will see during the installation.
    • Whether to auto accept the EULA dialog box on behalf of the user.
    • An option to auto-activate the software.

Remove existing versions of Office before installing Office LTSC 2021

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.

Install Office LTSC 2021 using the Office Deployment Tool

Alright, let’s finish this article off by running the installer. I’ll open a Windows Terminal instance (as Administrator).

Windows Terminal (running as Administrator) - Ready to install Office 2021 LTSC
Windows Terminal (running as Administrator) – Ready for the Install!

Now, we will enter the following command:

setup.exe /configure .\configuration-Office2021Enterprise.xml
Office LTSC 2021 setup starts after running the command
After running the command, Setup starts

Next, the installation progress window appears.

The installation of Office LTSC 2021 continues
The installation of Office LTSC 2021 continues…note the icons for Visio and Project towards the end…

Success! We have lift off.

The installation of Office 201 LTSC has completed.
The setup is complete!

When we open the Start Menu on Windows 11, we notice a few new apps available.

Some new Office apps appeared in the Windows 11 Start Menu
Some new Office apps in the Start Menu!

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.

You have to accept the license agreement when you open Office LTSC 2021 for the first time
Getting all the housekeeping chores done…

I clicked the ‘Account‘ menu in the lower left corner and noted the current licensing state.

Our version of Office LTSC 2021 is unlicensed
This is unlicensed software!

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.

We enter a MAK to activate Office
Enter a MAK to activate the software

After entering my key, we are all good!

Office works after entering a MAK
Using the wizard, I was able to activate Office over the Internet.

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!

So happy and legal! 😉

Conclusion

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!

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