Microsoft preps for the coming Office 365 refresh

Microsoft preps for the coming Office 365 refresh

Summary: Microsoft is planning a major refresh of its Office 365 cloud-hosted business apps, possibly later this month. Here's what it's telling partners to expect with the coming roll-out.


Microsoft officials still have yet to share publicly the planned launch date for Office 2013 and the related Office 365 refresh. But the company is beginning to prep its channel partners for the occasion.


This week, Microsoft provided some of its resellers and integrators with marching orders about the coming Microsoft-hosted Office 365 updates. The week of January 21, Microsoft is holding additional partner training in Redmond for the upcoming Office 365 and Office 2013 launches.

Here's some of what it told them, according to Charles Drengberg (@CDrengberg on Twitter), Microsoft Business Manager and Virtual Technical Specialist with En Pointe Technologies:

  • Office 365 users will receive upgrade notifications 14 days prior to the date Microsoft plans to move them to the latest Office 365 release. (Some users already have been told they will be allowed to upgrade in January 2013).
  • U.S. customers will receive upgrades first, with Europe/UK/Africa following several months later. Japan/Korea/Pacific Rim will follow after that.
  • Upgrades will all be completed by "early November 2013." Even users who've opted to postpone their upgrade dates, will be required to upgrade by this time.
  • Standalone Exchange Online tenants will be upgraded first, with "E" Suite (Enterprise)  tenants to follow. For those with hybrid online/on-premises Exchange deployments, Exchange 2010 Service Pack 3 will be required in order to use the Exchange Management Console. (Here's what's new in the on-premises version of Exchange Server 2013.)
  • The new Office (2013 components) will require Windows 7 or Windows 8. As of April 2013, users who want to deploy the new Office components on both PCs and Macs (under the new Office 365 terms allowing installation on up to five PCs and Macs) will have to have Office 2011 and/or a "newer" version installed on their Macs.
  • Microsoft's free Office Web Apps also will be updated to the latest version. The Lync Web App will be upgraded to HD and will include a "Brady Bunch" style group-video conferencing feature that allows participants to see everyone at once.
  • Office 2010 will be available for download through Office 365 until April 8, 2014

I've heard January 29 might be the new Office launch date; it seems others are hearing the same rumor. (Brazilian users also are hearing Microsoft is launching some product on that date.) Microsoft officials are not commenting on the timing at this point.

Microsoft did make public late last year a list of the coming Office 365 SKUs that should be available as of launch. These include everything from Office 365 Small Business, to Office 365 for Mid-Size Business and Enterprise. Microsoft has made public the official pricing on some of these SKUs.

Topics: Cloud, Collaboration, Microsoft


Mary Jo has covered the tech industry for 30 years for a variety of publications and Web sites, and is a frequent guest on radio, TV and podcasts, speaking about all things Microsoft-related. She is the author of Microsoft 2.0: How Microsoft plans to stay relevant in the post-Gates era (John Wiley & Sons, 2008).

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  • Migrating from O365 P1?

    In October compupc1 asked in commented:
    Is there any word about any new abilities to migrate between plans. I am in the process of migrating from a P1 to an E3 plan and it is a huge pain -- everything server-side has to be manually recreated (e.g. none of your users, SharePoint docs, e-mails, DNS entries, etc. carry over). With this new midsize tier, what happens when companies grow or need to expand from tier to the next?

    QuiteCloudy replied:
    From what I understand the midsize tier is really just based on the E1/E2 SKUs and shouldn't have the migration limitations associated with the old P1 plan. The P1 plan was actually on a separate platform than the E skus and thus necessitated full migrations. Hopefully they'll figure out a better way to turn on/off features that doesn't require that platform separation in the next release. No word on that that I've heard yet, however.

    Any update on migrating customers up from P1? Can customers migrate from P1 to mid-size or E1 in the new O365 without doing what compup1 had to do? Thanks in advance.
    • Re: Migrating from O365 P1?

      I really hope that the coming Office 365 refresh will introduce a method of migrating from P1 accounts. I have a client that we need to migrate, but haven't done so because of the manual process that is currently required.
  • Google Apps status

    Any word from Microsoft on what the status is with regard to Google Apps integration across all the app now that EAS isn't being supported by Google? I realize this is as much a question for Google as it is Microsoft but the fact remains that a lot of Office users will be expecting to hook this up to a Google backend rather than Exchange, especially in the Mac customer base.
    Jeff Nolan
    • Microsoft's response will most likely be...

      Suck it.

      Google decided to do away with integration, not Microsoft. Let them fix it.
    • Imap

      Quite easy. You setup gmail with IMAP. Make an outlook account with you gmail as user name Than you setup all your devices to use outlook for contacts and kalender sync.
      • email only

        IMAP syncs email folders, Google Sync works across calendar, contacts, and email. I'm using it on outlook 2010 now and it works great, going forward I could sync outlook 2013 email via IMAP but because Outlook doesn't support CardDAV and CalDAV I am out of luck on contacts and calendar.

        Further complicating matters is that only supports EAS and POP, no IMAP.

        I realize that Google and Microsoft have issues but they need to figure this syncing issue out because Gmail's web experience is pretty bad and there is no way I am moving my business from Google Apps to Exchange, at least at this point. I recently switched from a Mac to Win8 and am enjoying returning to Outlook (on the Mac it is a really deficient experience so I never used it) and the Google Sync product works well on Outlook 2010 but doesn't work at all on 2013.

        As I stated in my original comment, this is as much a question for Google because Sync is their product and they dropped support for EAS, however Microsoft needs to address what their path is for CalDAV and CardDav, and by extension come out with a plan for supporting IMAP in
        Jeff Nolan
        • Paid vs. Free

          Google only dropped EAS support for the free accounts on new devices, supposedly. I was still able to sync a new device on a free account the other day. Paid accounts will work.