The big file-sharing leap came with Samba 4. That release brought Linux an Active Directory (AD) domain controller. With that version, Samba gained the ability to share files with both old and new Windows systems by bringing its support up to Server Message Block (SMB) 3. Now, with a smaller file-sharing jump, Samba 4.1 brings Linux desktops and Macs the power to use files being offered by Windows 8.x and Windows 2012 servers using SMB 3.
An easier way to do this will be to use the "client max protocol" parameter in the [global] section of your Linux desktop's or Mac's smb.conf file. For example, by placing
client max protocol = SMB3
in the smb.conf file these desktops will automatically try the SMB3 protocol when connecting to Windows 8, Windows 2012, or Samba 4.x server. Eventually this will also enable Macs, which can also use Samba, to connect to these file servers as well.
While this nuts and bolts approach won't appeal to anyone except system administrators, GUI-based file sharing tools will hide these technical details away as Samba 4.1 is integrated into desktops.
Jeremy Allison, a senior Samba developer and Google's Linux evangelist added that, "With the latest Snowdon revelations it's nice to note we now support SMB3 transport level encryption to Windows 2012 servers as well as Samba4 servers. We've had Samba -> Samba transport encryption over SMB1 for many years already, of course, having it [transport encryption] to Windows servers is the new thing." This means that Linux systems sharing files from Server 2012 will be far less prone to having the file's data snatched in mid-stream.
"Although," Allison wryly noted, "With the design of that protocol coming from a US-based company it's hard to know if it's completely trustworthy."
In addition this new Samba brings improved directory database replication and server-side copy. Finally, Samba brings better Linux btrfs support, and, as Allison noted, "A boatload of fixes and stabilization as we push towards full SMB3 support!"