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Microsoft Releases SharePoint Server Subscription Edition Update 23H1

Microsoft unveiled update 23H1 for the SharePoint Server Subscription Edition (SE) product and a handful of service and plan changes this week.   

Microsoft released update 23H1 for SharePoint Server SE on March 14, which is also "update Tuesday," the occasion when Microsoft releases its general quality and security patches. It turns out that update Tuesdays (the second Tuesdays of each month) also will be regular time periods when Microsoft releases public updates (PUs) for the SharePoint Server SE product.

In this case, the PU also brought along update 23H1, a feature update release. Microsoft has instigated a new product update plan for SharePoint Server SE that will deliver new product feature updates twice per year, in the spring and in the fall, via PUs, according to Stefan Goßner, a senior escalation engineer on the SharePoint team.

Microsoft actually started its twice-per-year feature update release approach for SharePoint Server SE back in September with its 22H2 release.

These feature update releases will arrive as two "feature release rings" deployment options, consisting of Early and Standard release rings. Both options are deemed to be "supported" for production environments by Microsoft, but the Standard release, arriving later, is the default one.

New Public Updates Approach, plus Unified Uber Patches
These public updates, now arriving each month for SharePoint Server SE, will be bringing "unified uber patches" that will replace Microsoft's twice-per-year "STS and WSSLOC" update scheme. The STS and WSSLOC acronyms aren't defined in Microsoft's document on SharePoint software update terminology, but they were described as bringing "language-independent file updates" and "language-dependent file updates," respectively, in this document.

The new monthly PU approach was described by Bill Baer, senior product marketing manager in the SharePoint group, as "making it easier to manage SharePoint Server." Here's Baer's characterization of the change to monthly PU servicing, which is now in effect for SharePoint Server SE users:

To simplify the process for updating your SharePoint Server Subscription Edition environments, we're introducing a single update each month for SharePoint Server Subscription Edition, starting with the March 2023 public update. This unified update combines all of the improvements that would have previously been released in separate STS and WSSLOC updates. The single uber updates are cumulative, so you only need to install the latest update to get all of the latest improvements for SharePoint Server Subscription Edition.

This new uber update approach dispenses with STS and WSSLOC releases, which ended "after the February 2023 public update," Baer added.

Deprecation Deadlines
Some SharePoint Server SE features will be "deprecated" and "removed" by a future release, according to Goßner. The removal mechanism possibly may occur via a PU, but the point wasn't explained.

Some SharePoint Server SE features will get deprecated on July 14, 2026. They include:

  • InfoPath Forms Services (Microsoft recommends using Power Apps instead)
  • Microsoft Workflow Manager (upgrade to SharePoint Workflow Manager instead)
  • SharePoint Designer 2013 (use Visual Studio to create and edit workflows instead)

Microsoft somewhat contradictorily explained in this document on SharePoint deprecations that such deprecated features are still supported in SharePoint Server SE products for customers that are using it and still need it for backward compatibility. However, deprecated features nonetheless "may be removed in future updates to SharePoint Server Subscription Edition." Microsoft pledged that it will give customers "advance notice" on the feature removals.

Microsoft also gave notice that SharePoint Server 2013 will reach its end-of-support phase on April 11, 2023. End-of-support means that the product still runs, but Microsoft stops issuing patches for it. Organizations using SharePoint Server 2013 can upgrade to SharePoint Server 2016 or SharePoint Server 2019, as those products will be supported until July 2026.

The upgrade path to SharePoint Server SE can happen from either SharePoint Server 2016 or SharePoint Server 2019.

New SharePoint Server SE Features
Update 23H1 is bringing lots of new features and capabilities to SharePoint Server SE, with a full list provided in this document. Microsoft's announcements highlighted some of them, as follows.

The update adds support for the SharePoint Framework version 1.5.1 development platform, with support for "modern web technologies and tools." Also, Microsoft "recompiled SharePoint Server Subscription Edition with the newest Visual C++ compiler: Visual C++ 2022." Microsoft also added four new PowerShell commandlets that "will replace the functionality of the 'stsadm.exe -o variationsfixuptool' command."

The update also supports private key management of SSL/TLS certificates in SharePoint Server farms, which allows the certificates to be " dynamically updated when the certificate assignments change."

Microsoft added "wildcard host header binding" for web applications that share the same TCP port, which lets organizations shorten DNS names using an asterisk.

The sharing function in "lists, document libraries, pages, or site contents" now follows the modern sharing dialog box convention with this update. However, Microsoft added an option to its Lists column totals view to make it look more like the "classic" SharePoint approach, if wanted. Also, the Quick Chart modern Web Part can now get data from a SharePoint site's List or Library, which previously wasn't possible. The File Picker now supports more file types, namely "PDF, TXT, MP4, M4V, MP3, OGG and WAV."

SharePoint Server 2019 and AMSI Support
Microsoft also announced that it has integrated the Windows Antimalware Scan Interface (AMSI) security capability into SharePoint Server 2019 with its March 2023 cumulative update. This capability is "designed to prevent malicious web requests from reaching SharePoint endpoints." It will examine incoming Web requests and block the malicious ones.

AMSI also lets "applications and services to integrate with any AMSI-capable anti-malware product present on a computer."

AMSI was added to SharePoint Server SE back in November, but now it's available in SharePoint Server 2019. "This feature will also become available to SharePoint Server 2016 customers later this year," Baer indicated.

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