Details begin to leak on Microsoft SharePoint Online 2013

Microsoft is readying a number of new features and improvements for the next version of its cloud-hosted SharePoint, known as SharePoint Online 2013, according to my sources.
Written by Mary Jo Foley, Senior Contributing Editor

When Microsoft officials announced in late January that the private technology preview for Office 15 was kicking off, they said the plan was to launch the new versions of Office client, Office servers and Office in the cloud (a k a Office 365) simultaneously.

There have been a few leaks about Office 15 client and at least one of the Office 15 servers, but nothing on the next major Office 365 release (SharePoint Online 15, Exchange Online 15 and Lync Online 15). Until now....

One of my contacts with access to the technology preview has shared a few tidbits about the "15" release of SharePoint Online.

And for those wondering about the final name of the product, it seems Microsoft is referencing SharePoint 15 and SharePoint Online 15 as "SharePoint 2013." (See screen shot above.) So even if the Office 15 wave is released to manufacturing this year, as I've heard is still Microsoft's hope and plan, it's looking more and more like the final name of the family will be Office 2013.

Based on what's in the SharePoint Online 15/2013 technology preview, here are some of the features likely to be part of the release:

SharePoint Duet: A cloud version of the Duet add-on Developed by SAP and Microsoft that allows SharePoint to integrate with SAP applications Support for viewing business intelligence content on Apple iPad devices Improved Web Apps:  With the 15 release, Office Web Apps won't be running from the SharePoint "farm." Instead the Webified versions of Microsoft's Office apps will run from a new Office Web Apps Server. Third party developers will be able to tie into the Office Web Apps service and provide access to documents stored in IBM FileNet, OpenText, and Oracle Metro user interface: Tiles in site collections will display more information when you hover your mouse over them, in a Metro-like style Rights Management Services (RMS): RMS is being integrated directly into SharePoint Server 15 (and Exchange Server 15), as I blogged earlier. Sounds like the same is happening with the cloud versions of these products. It seems RMS on the cloud side also might be available as an add-in or separate SKU Project Online: New Project site to manage lightweight projects. Microsoft officials and the company's partners have been hinting about this one for the past year Visio Online: Sounds as though there will be a Visio cloud service component, too, as I hear last year, though in the tech preview it doesn't seem to be available as a standalone entity. (Seems to be bundled with Project client)

Supposedly, according to my contact, SharePoint takes a "heavy dependence" on Windows Azure with the "15" release. Does this mean SharePoint Online -- or maybe even all of Office 365 -- will move to be hosted on Azure as part of the next major wave? I am not sure. Microsoft officials have said moving Office 365 to Azure is a goal, but haven't provided a timeframe.

In other Office 15-related news, Microsoft is said to be working on new Web extension capabilities for the coming Office 15 client. That component is code-named Agave, according to a report by Tom Warren on The Verge.

Microsoft officials are not commenting on anything having to do with Office 15 at this time. A public beta is due this summer.

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