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A Sneak Peek at Office 15; Office for Education 15 App; Details Leak on Microsoft SharePoint Online 2013

The Office 15 Technical Preview, which was released a few weeks ago to a select group of Microsoft customers under NDA is slated to be release with Windows 8. In a rencent blog post, Paul Thurrott posted exclusive screens of the Office 15 “Preview”.

A public beta of Office 15/SharePoint 15 is due this summer.

Office 15 Technical Preview

Thurrott pointed out a number of new features in the technical preview, including a new Get Started area:

… a minimized by default Ribbon, a new “Design” tab for configuring document themes, and some revisions designed to make Office work better with touch interfaces, including a full screen mode, and “touch mode”, which “increases the size of onscreen elements so that they are more easily accessed via touch”

Also new to this version is Microsoft ID integration. As with Windows Live Photo Gallery, you’re now signed into your Microsoft ID automatically. Open the small pop-up menu and you can manage your connected services. In my case, I was automatically connected to Flickr, My Office (which is new), SkyDrive, Windows Live Hotmail, and Windows Live Messenger. Other available services include Office 365 SharePoint and LinkedIn.

Also, SkyDrive has taken a front row seat in the new Office, as Thurrott says “very interested to see that SkyDrive is the first choice” of save options once you are logged in to your Microsoft account, which happens automatically, and managed from a pop-up window allowing you to configure your connected services.

But of course with the fate and future of Windows Live Essentials still in the balance, and no word on what may happen to the Essentials apps. Thurrott, on Twitter said that he thinks there will be a Windows Live Essentials for Windows 8, that there is “far too much functionality missing in Metro apps”, and that he doesn’t “see that happening, personally” (the disappearance of Writer).

Also, with Office 15, Microsoft is introducing a new “Office Web Apps Server,” which will be able to serve multiple SharePoint farms for viewing and editing documents.

In addition, a server or a farm running Office Web Apps will be able to view files stored across data stores, including those in Microsoft server products like SharePoint Server, Exchange Server and Lync; URL-accessible file servers; and certain third-party stores that integrate (like EMC Documentum, IBM FileNet, OpenText and Oracle).

Microsoft is also readying a number of new features and improvements for the next version of its cloud-hosted SharePoint, now known as “SharePoint Online 2013,” according to sources, Microsoft is referencing SharePoint 15 and SharePoint Online 15 as “SharePoint 2013.”

SharePoint Online 2013

Here are some of the features likely to be part of the release:

  • “SharePoint Duet: A cloud version of the Duet add-on Developed by SAP and Microsoft that allows SharePoint to integrate with SAP applications
  • Support for viewing business intelligence content on Apple iPad devices
  • Improved Web Apps: With the 15 release, Office Web Apps won’t be running from the SharePoint “farm.” Instead the Webified versions of Microsoft’s Office apps will run from a new Office Web Apps Server. Third party developers will be able to tie into the Office Web Apps service and provide access to documents stored in IBM FileNet, OpenText, and Oracle
  • Metro user interface: Tiles in site collections will display more information when you hover your mouse over them, in a Metro-like style
  • Rights Management Services (RMS): RMS is being integrated directly into SharePoint Server 15 (and Exchange Server 15). It seems RMS on the cloud side also might be available as an add-in or separate SKU
  • Project Online: New Project site to manage lightweight projects. Microsoft officials and the company’s partners have been hinting about this one for the past year
  • Visio Online: Sounds as though there will be a Visio cloud service component, too (Seems to be bundled with Project client).” (via MJF)

Finally, Microsoft is reported testing among a select group a new “Office for Education 15 app,” a education-focused software application built on top of the coming SharePoint Server 15 product, and is part of the Office 15 technical preview test program.

Office for Education 15 App

“The Office for Education 15 app is a new SharePoint app aimed at educational users who want to manage, track and report on classroom activity. It is being targeted at both faculty and students. Because it is based on SharePoint, the app has a heavy collaboration focus. It is designed to allow users to share documents, build Web sites for specific classes and groups and create repositories of associated resources. Documents in these repositories can be rights-protected and can be searched for and checked out within the app.”

Office 365 for Education is the successor to [email protected] and is set to become broadly available in the summer of 2012, according to Microsoft’s web site. There will be three pricing/licensing plans for Office 365 for Education — A2, A3 and A4 — all of which are detailed on Microsoft’s page.

“A2 is free for both students and faculty. The other plans range in price from $2.50 per user per month (student price for A3), to $6 per user per month (faculty pricing for A4).”

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