Monday the 16th of July saw the latest version of Office 365 being previewed for avid customers. But only one day later it was announced that there will be trials available for the highly anticipated 2013 products Microsoft SharePoint, Project, Visio, Lync, Exchange, Office Web Apps Servicer, and Office Professional Plus.


During the launch event the corporate vice president of the Microsoft Office Division, Kirk Koenigsbauer, announced that users could test out Office 2013, which comes with Office 365, alongside apps for Microsoft Office. But confusion soon arose, as the Microsoft download page for the preview announced that it couldn’t be used alongside any other apps at all.

The confusion was mainly as a result of disarray when looking at the name of the product. This is because Office 365 has had an Office version that wasn’t actually available on the cloud; although that was amended quite recently. In fact, it’s up to customers to maintain Office Professional Plus on their own. But this is a step away from the services that actually come through Office 365, such as SharePoint and Lync.

The Office Web Apps (OWA) part of proceedings is another point of confusion. These browser-based programs that replicate Excel, PowerPoint, Word and other programs in a browser are not actually full versions of all of the productivity add-ons provided by Microsoft.

OWA can actually be used by customers without paying any charges or paying for any licenses. Along with this they get access to the SkyDrive service, which allows them to store their files in a safe and secure location. However, the catch is that only users with browser access can gain these benefits completely free of charge.

The confusion continues as a similar product called Office on demand was announced by Microsoft to be in the works. This service provides a streamlined method to get Office apps on to one’s PC or portable device for use on the go.

SharePoint Improved

SharePoint in 2013 sees a number of improvements, which were announced by the team’s blog. These features are already available for testing and there are full previews for SharePoint 2013 already available.

The major news was that the cloud-enabled SharePoint 2013 on Office 365 and the server version of the program are being released at the same time. This news was released by the corporate vice president of SharePoint, Jeff Teper.

Furthermore, the $1.2 billion June takeover of Yammer by Microsoft is also paying off as the social networking capabilities of this company have been combined with SharePoint 2013 to aid collaboration.

A new storage service is also expected to be released and is expected to be fully compatible with SharePoint 2013. Teper spoke about this new product called SkyDrive Pro as he mentioned that workflow, collaboration, and overall social networking will all be major considerations when this eventually gets released.

Finally, Teper briefly touched upon the upgrades to monitoring with a site hub that allows users to monitor all their sites quickly and efficiently. There was also a mention of the out-of-box application, however Teper merely stated that customisation of the program would just add unnecessary amounts of difficulty to the program.

Exchange Features 2013

In the current product, Exchange 2010, there are a selection of control panels and management consoles that work to control the whole thing. In Exchange 2013 they have been replaced with an all encompassing Exchange Administration Centre, or at least that’s what appeared in the preview version. This is supposedly designed to simplify the whole process of controlling various aspects of Exchange.

The idea of simplifying the whole process continues with a new public folder that has been integrated with the program. This is supposed to remove the public folder database that Microsoft currently operates with Exchange 2010. Continuing on with this trend, a simplified installer has already been developed for installing Exchange 2013. The preview also revealed that offline access to the OWA version of Microsoft Outlook is supported.

However, there is one major problem that will bother many older organisations. The Exchange 2013 preview demonstrated that there’s no compatibility with the 2003 version of Exchange. This is a massive problem for those who want to mix their servers and to use their previous work as they just plain won’t be able to.

There are a variety of other features available for Microsoft Exchange 2013, and they can be found by contact us, your local Microsoft Partner for more information.