Delivering the final session of the inaugural SharePoint Leadership Conference, we were honored to have Ed Hild, Technology Architect at the Microsoft Technology Center in Reston, Va, offering a guided tour of the new Microsoft Office and SharePoint 2013. Ed began his session by explaining that he'd be leveraging Office 365 for his presentation –including a live demo– of the new Office. Of the Office 365 experience, Ed mentioned to attendees that a beta tenancy is currently available, and of Office 2013, he shared the happy news that Microsoft had "recently RTM'd Office and SharePoint 2013."
Getting down to business, Ed said that "you can now deploy Office as a service," and that doing so "takes just three minutes since there's a virtualization stack built into the new version." To underscore this point, while he was talking through the steps, an unedited video of the deployment process was shown on the screen behind him. Ed explained that "bits are streamed to users, so basic functionalities of apps can be used very quickly," and that "installing a service pack to Word [for example] will be as simple as 'close Word and reopen' because the bits will already be there."
Addressing changes to Outlook in the 2013 release, Ed showed that "the Ribbon is larger to make things easier for users." Ed demonstrated that a Bing maps link had automatically been embedded into an email simply because there was an address in the mail. Needless to say, clicking such a link will render the Bing map app. Also embedded automatically in the email was a helpful "Suggested Meetings" link. Demonstrating the Policy Tip, Ed explained that it's a new Exchange feature that protects sensitive content from being sent, and that the protection extends to including content found in attachments to mail.
In Word 2013, Ed showed that the reading view has been "optimized with tablet experiences in mind" (particularly regarding scrolling/swiping). Comments are off to the side, and are now expandable and "reply-able for almost a threaded discussion." As well, it's now possible to open a PDF file directly in Word, as Ed demonstrated for SPLF attendees.
For his demo of Excel 2013, Ed showed the (very cool) "flash fill feature" which can be used to fill entire columns automatically. This smart new feature is able to read the contents of one cell which includes various types of data (e.g., name, age, address), and auto-separate the data into other columns. Once you've entered the information for two cells (name, say) in a column, the flash fill feature will automatically fill in the rest of the names in that column since it can tell what you're doing. There are also enhancements to Pivot functionality.
Moving on to the main event –his SharePoint 2013 demo– Ed demonstrated that My Sites are now more "personal sites." Ed said that Newsfeeds and SkyDrive are now SharePoint-specific, and that "the social stack [in SharePoint] has received more enhancements than anywhere else in 2013." Ed explained that Newsfeeds "can be very enterprise-oriented, or localized within a specific group." "Colleagues" is now "people I'm following" in the 2013 experience, said Ed. Demonstrating another social enhancement, Ed showed that beginning to enter a hashtag triggers suggestions from the terms store (including folksonomies). Ed also showed that "everything and everyone you follow is rolled up in a streamlined 'Following' presentation," and the experience includes recommendations.
Ed explained that SkyDrive Pro is available "within your enterprise to store your work and make it available locally," and showed that it's now easy to see who has access to a given document. You can tell this at a glance, based on the appearance of a lock icon (if private/not shared) or a people icon, which you can hover over to see with whom it's shared. Ed demonstrated that it's also easy to invite/give someone access to a document within the same feature.
Demonstrating search results in SharePoint 2013, and explaining that FAST features are now available without a separate license, Ed showed that you can hover and see a full site/page preview at right, and can click right into the preview to navigate to specific areas therein. Ed explained that in a team site, "you can run your own App Store since it's just another site." As well, Ed showed the dedicated Team Mailbox app, explaining that it's "an actual Exchange mailbox that's created when you add the app." Downloading a file attachment within the Team Mailbox, as Ed demonstrated, goes directly to the associated SharePoint document library.
Addressing Microsoft Project, Ed said that they "recognized that there's a huge gap between Project Server (the big hammer) and SharePoint task lists, [and that] most of what people want to do is in-between." As a result, Ed showed that SharePoint 2013 task lists now supports sub-tasks. Opening a SharePoint list in Project and editing it using the advanced features available in Project, Ed then demonstrated that his changes had been synchronized when he returned to view the list on the SharePoint site.
Wrapping up his session, Ed said of the upcoming show in Vegas (kicking off just two weeks from today!) that "the SPC is the coming out party" for SharePoint and Office 2013. We here at Bamboo can't wait, and if you're going to be among the attendees, we're betting you can't either. We hope to see you there!
Complete coverage of SharePoint Leadership Forum 2012:
Oct 29 2012, 04:00 PM
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