Microsoft recently announced that Service Pack 1 updates for Office 2013, Exchange 2013 and SharePoint 2013 are on the way. The service packs will be released early in 2014. The updates will bring the on-site versions of these popular servers and applications up to date and ensure they offer parity in terms of features, security and stability, with the cloud-based Office 365 versions of the software.
Microsoft has been releasing a lot of minor updates for the cloud-based Office 365 in the last few months, and touts the automatic ‘updating’ of these applications as a feature of Office 365. However, it understands that periodic updates for the on-premises versions of the applications is important, since a large percentage of Microsoft’s customers have yet to make the move to the cloud.
The Service Pack 1 version of SharePoint 2013 includes many fixes, improvements and schema updates, and also adds the ability for SharePoint 2013 to be installed on Windows 2012 R2. The Exchange updates, however, are the ones that many businesses are likely to be interested in, because the SP1 update will see the return of two important features. Firstly, support for S/MIME inside the Outlook web application, and secondly the reintroduction of the Edge Transport server role, which was removed in Exchange 2013.
Currently, businesses that demand Edge Transport deployments are limited to using Exchange 2010 SP3, so many will welcome the ability to upgrade to the more feature-rich Exchange 2013 and still keep their anti-spam and malware protection. Companies that moved over to other security tools may want to consider re-enabling Edge Transport after they have updated their installation to Service Pack 1.
SharePoint 2013 is used by a huge range of businesses, from SMEs to Fortune 500 companies. The release of this latest service pack presents a good opportunity for companies to revisit SharePoint and consider some of the most interesting social features that are new for 2013.
SharePoint can be used as a collaboration tool, and also as a business intelligence application. If offers strong analytic capabilities which businesses can use to track performance both inside and outside their companies. The tools built-in to SharePoint include user-enabled KPI tracking, resource deployment and even big data processing options.
You don’t need to be a statistics wizard or a reporting expert to harness these tools, they’re simply right there in front of you in the dashboard. Business Intelligence does not have to be an intimidating concept. With the right tools, you can produce some informative and interesting visualizations, and finally make sense of all of the data you have been gathering.
The online features of SharePoint should not be overlooked either. Many businesses use SharePoint internally, but have not considered the options that it offers for external, customer facing deployments. A portal developed using SharePoint can be a sleek, responsive and polished interface that offers a lot of information to your consumers, and gives you the ability to capture valuable data at the same time.