Next Versions of Exchange, SharePoint Coming 2015

The next releases of Microsoft's Exchange Server and SharePoint Server products will not arrive until next year.

Jeff Teper, Microsoft's corporate vice president of the Office Service and Servers group, made the announcement on Monday. Microsoft's current server releases are Exchange Server 2013 and SharePoint Server 2013, both of which were updated with Service Pack 1 last week.

Teper said nothing about the next Office release. However, veteran Microsoft watcher Mary Jo Foley has speculated that the next Office product also will appear in 2015.

The expectation that new server products might be released in 2014 comes from Microsoft's new accelerated release cycle. The company now tends to release new server and operating system software products on an annual basis, instead of once every three years. Typically, the releases are "cloud first," which means that updates arrive faster to Office 365 hosted solutions (Exchange Online, Lync Online and SharePoint Online) than they do to Microsoft's server products installed on premises.

Most organizations are still typically running servers on premises, rather than tapping Microsoft's Office 365 cloud services. While Microsoft showed off some collaboration technology benefits for Office 365 services at its SharePoint Conference in Las Vegas on Monday, Teper admitted that users of SharePoint Server would see a lag in getting access to some of those features.

"We'll also continue to support hybrid deployments spanning both cloud and on premises technologies including expanded search and line-of business access," Teper wrote. "Our server releases will include some, but not all, of the experience you saw today due to the computational power and integrated aspects that only come with Office 365."

Teper pointed to the addition of SP1 for SharePoint Server 2013 as enabling hybrid networks in organizations. The service pack enables OneDrive for Business or Yammer, which are applications hosted by Microsoft, to run alongside premises-based SharePoint Server 2013, he contended.

Microsoft early on positioned Yammer as the eventual replacement for SharePoint's Newsfeed enterprise social networking feature. Jared Spataro, Microsoft's general manager of Enterprise Social, reiterated that notion on Monday.

"My guidance has been clear and consistent: Go Yammer!," Spataro wrote in a blog post. "While we're committed to another on-premises release of SharePoint Server -- and we'll maintain its social capabilities -- we don't plan on adding new features. Our investments in social will be focused on Yammer and Office 365, so that we can innovate quickly and take advantage of the viral user adoption that is so important to the natural network effect that makes social so powerful."

Spataro noted that there are large numbers of organizations still running premises-based SharePoint Server deployments. However, he claimed Microsoft would make it easy for them to run hybrid networks to tap cloud-based social networking capabilities.

Microsoft officials keep pointing to SP1 for SharePoint Server 2013 as facilitating such hybrid network approaches. The details seem yet to come.

About the Author

Kurt Mackie is senior news producer for 1105 Media's Converge360 group.


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