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Before attending this session I had downloaded and installed a preview of SharePoint 2013 and had a bit of a play with it. But this session was very helpful and well presented.
The first part of the presentation was about My Sites and social features in SP2013. The My Sites activity feed is now slick and improved. There are a lot of elements that are borrowed from all the popular social networking sites –Like / Unlike, Follow, Share, hashtags and so forth.
One of the highlights for me though was the drag and drop support for file uploads. Thanks to the wonders ofHTML5, SharePoint 2013 now supports cross browser compatible drag and drop support for file uploads. This is a huge improvement in the user experience – the user experience for document library interactions has always been too complicated for the average user.
It is also now really easy for users to share documents with explicit people or groups. This is an improved way of looking at the permissions for specific documents.
Project management capabilities are improved and there is a snazzy way of developing a visual timeline of events. This is useful for team collaboration.
Tasks! Now if you have been assigned tasks across different sites in SharePoint, or have personal tasks in Outlook, you can see all of these together in one place in your My Site. This is a very useful feature and means you don’t need to write / purchase a Task roll-up web part. Long overdue.
The way it was described – in SharePoint 2010 everything was a list. In SharePoint 2013 everything is an App. This is the new way of thinking. You can publish custom apps (of course), download third party apps and control which ones users have available to them. You can take multiple apps, mash them together and combine them in a site template.
Every new feature built is built with the cloud in mind – they don’t want to have to fork the code and have a different version for on-premise and cloud, so to ensure feature parity it’s all the same code base. This is a common theme across Microsoft products given their whole cloud push.
The artist formerly known as Central Admin is vastly improved at least from a look and feel perspective. There was a demo of the Office365 version, sometimes known as the Tenant Administration Center(?).
You can leave your SP2010 sites as they are, full API support for this version in SharePoint 2013. So you can upgrade sites when you’re ready to do that. Basically co-existence of the two versions of SharePoint within the SP2013 farm. Works the same for Office365 or the on-premise solution.
Overall the future of SharePoint 2013 looks good – some overdue improvements rather than just building new features on top of the old. There are new features, but often Microsoft glosses over the existing features that need love.